When a reef fish becomes stuck in a plastic bottle, a caring human child not only rescues her, but also organizes an ocean cleanup.
Like many humans, Alba, an orange fish with white spots, loves to collect interesting and beautiful objects. As she grows bigger and older, she finds more trash and fewer treasures in her neighborhood—and her reef-dwelling friends disappear. Still searching for treasures, she swims into a bottle to retrieve a pearl inside and becomes trapped. The bottle washes up on shore, where Kaia, also a collector of treasures and shown with long black hair and dark skin, comes to the rescue. Placing the fish temporarily in a bucket, she convinces her whole town to help clean “the mess that they had made.” Hawthorne’s stylized, posterlike illustrations initially show a bright, lively reef full of identifiable fish, coral, and other sea creatures. (A spread at the end introduces some of the other inhabitants, an opportunity for seek-and-find activities.) As the trash increases, the fish vanish. Near the end, a spread shows the windmill-powered town, cleaners on the beach, and even divers removing trash, making possible the busy reef scene that greets Alba’s safe return. First published in England as Alba, the Hundred Year Old Fish, this hopeful fable may help very young readers think about the problem of plastic waste.
Unlikely—but the simple story and bright pictures underscore the importance of taking care of our ocean. (Picture book. 3-6)