A likable volume with a message of empowerment for young children, wrapped in a gentle fish tale.


Aww Fishsticks

A timid little fish named Pax finds the key to confidence in this debut picture book.

In a simple setting inspired by Seneca Lake (in upstate New York), rendered in round shapes and soft colors, Mama Perch encourages her young offspring, Pax, to join the fun at a nearby waterfall. But Pax, shyly “hiding in the waterweeds,” feels too self-conscious about his swimming prowess to venture out, especially if he thinks that anyone is watching. His mother reminds him of an important phrase—“Aww, Fishsticks”—that “Pampy” (not identified, but Pax’s absent father, perhaps) would say to himself as a mantra for bravery when he felt fearful. Pax sets out for the waterfall but soon forgets his reassuring chant when all of the creatures that he encounters—assorted swimming fish, a leaping fawn, a paddling beaver, a buzzing bee, a soaring butterfly, and more—offer warnings and advice. Even their compliments throw Pax off because they remind him that he’s being observed. (A nice comic touch: three conflicting observations about Pax’s chances for success delivered by a “Smiling Frog,” a “Doubting Frog,” and a “Frowning Frog.”) What are the words that will help Pax concentrate on himself instead of on what others have to say? He can’t remember. Is it “Aww, Bubbles?” “Aww, Tadpoles?” “Aww, Minnows?” When the right words come back to him, Pax swims “like he never swam before,” realizing that “It’s what I think that matters!” The lively illustrations, along with text designed graphically for visual interest and written with wordplay to be shared and repeated (“swish,” “glub,” “buzz,” “flip,” “flap”), frame this unsubtle message with sunny appeal. The author and her collaborative illustrator add a mild layer of engagement with a seek-and-find activity: children can look for illustrations throughout the pages that match silhouettes of a squirrel, a ladybug, a leaf, a raccoon, and a bear. The book ends with photographs of the real-life flora and fauna that are featured in the story.

A likable volume with a message of empowerment for young children, wrapped in a gentle fish tale.

Pub Date: Jan. 13, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-9966498-0-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Siphre Books

Review Posted Online: Feb. 16, 2016

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The book is perfect for read-alouds, with occasional, often onomatopoeic Spanish words such as “quiquiriquí,” “tacatac” and...


Inspired by Colombian librarian Luis Soriano Bohórquez, Brown’s latest tells of a little girl whose wish comes true when a librarian and two book-laden burros visit her remote village.

Ana loves to read and spends all of her free time either reading alone or to her younger brother. She knows every word of the one book she owns. Although she uses her imagination to create fantastical bedtime tales for her brother, she really wants new books to read. Everything changes when a traveling librarian and his two donkeys, Alfa and Beto, arrive in the village. Besides loaning books to the children until his next visit, the unnamed man also reads them stories and teaches the younger children the alphabet. When Ana suggests that someone write a book about the traveling library, he encourages her to complete this task herself. After she reads her library books, Ana writes her own story for the librarian and gives it to him upon his reappearance—and he makes it part of his biblioburro collection. Parra’s colorful folk-style illustrations of acrylics on board bring Ana’s real and imaginary worlds to life. This is a child-centered complement to Jeanette Winter’s Biblioburro (2010), which focuses on Soriano.

The book is perfect for read-alouds, with occasional, often onomatopoeic Spanish words such as “quiquiriquí,” “tacatac” and “iii-aah” adding to the fun.   (author’s note, glossary of Spanish terms) (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: July 12, 2011

ISBN: 978-1-58246-353-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Tricycle

Review Posted Online: June 6, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2011

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This companion piece to the other fairy tales Marcia Brown has interpreted (see Puss In Boots, 1952, p. 548 and others) has the smoothness of a good translation and a unique charm to her feathery light pictures. The pictures have been done in sunset colors and the spreads on each page as they illustrate the story have the cumulative effect of soft cloud banks. Gentle.

Pub Date: June 15, 1954

ISBN: 0684126761

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: Oct. 26, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1954

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