In this chapter book, a myopic fish gets a pair of glasses, which allows him to become an ambassador on behalf of his species and his reef.
Bad Eyes, a fish with poor eyesight, swims with his school of Manini (also known as surgeonfish) around their home reef in Hawaii. Having bad eyesight is dangerous in this environment because of the many predators that catch and eat Manini. Swimming nearer the surface one day, Bad Eyes encounters humans: a girl, Marsha, exploring the reef with her marine biologist father in a boat. When her glasses fall off, they somehow attach themselves to Bad Eyes. To his amazement, he can now see clearly. Marsha dives in with her snorkeling gear and, miraculously, can talk telepathically to Bad Eyes. She wants to be friends and gives the glasses to him as a gift. Bad Eyes With Glasses—his new name—becomes a protector for his school, negotiating with barracudas, sharks, octopuses, groupers, and other animals; he learns much more about them and passes on important information, such as how to escape a gill net. The assorted reef populations vow to cooperate and protect themselves. Meanwhile, Marsha and her father work to halt human activities like the nets that badly damage fish and reefs. The volume leaves off hinting at more escapades to come. In his children’s book, Golicz (BE ALONE WITH ME, 2016) effectively combines adventure with ecological facts about ocean dwellers. Morey the Eel, for example, explains to Bad Eyes that he lives “by eating you and any fool, weak, or dead fish, snail, crab, lobster, or cucumber” that drifts by. The character of Marsha allows kids to identify with the story—which is never preachy—and think about what they could do to help preserve ocean reefs and wildlife. But dialogue can be stiff (for example, “Marsha, I’m not sure about your feelings, but you are without any danger from a schooling reef fish”), and Bad Eyes’ various encounters are very similar. While the uncredited black-and-white illustrations give the fish expressive faces, they clumsily combine photographs and drawings.
An informative environmental tale with a few rough spots.