When Fred gets that “bouncy feeling,” he can’t help playing and disturbing others, but when he finds a kindred playful spirit, the two make music together that everyone enjoys.
Fred is an energetic octopus surrounded by disapproving sea creatures, especially the sawfish. “Why can’t you keep still like the other fish?” they scold during quiet time. Sent away, he encounters a clamshell that makes an interesting noise when knocked—until it traps his tentacle. It’s Scott, who also needs to play. Together, their dancing attracts the other fish, and everyone has a good time. This sympathetic story comes from Belgium and the Netherlands, but young readers and listeners anywhere in the world will recognize Fred’s need to wiggle. On one spread, Fred tries desperately to hold in his emotions, clenching eyes and mouth, puffing up his face, and braiding his tentacles—a small child about to explode. Schneider’s pastel paintings show the suppressed energy through the changing colors of these two playful characters. All the anthropomorphized sea creatures have large eyes and expressive faces; they would show well to a group. The text includes made-up words that characterize the sound of Fred’s noisy play: “FLING FLANG FONG / PLUNG PLANG PLONG.” The smooth translation is credited to the publisher.
Follow this agreeable outing with Doreen Cronin and Scott Menchin’s Wiggle (2005) during storytime to harness the inevitable imitations. (Picture book. 4-7)