FISH by Liam Francis Walsh
Kirkus Star


Age Range: 3 - 7
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This picture-book debut from a New Yorker cartoonist presents a child and a dog and their escapades while fishing.

The narrative is mostly wordless, although the alphabet does take center stage. A controlled palette of aquamarine, black, and white heightens both contrast and surprise when the child reels in a red “F,” even as readers and the dog see a huge, menacing “C” emerging from the depths. After pulling in the “I” and “S,” the child’s dragged down into a vortex of scarlet “H”s. The mission’s finally accomplished, but a squall of “B”s and the sharklike tips of “A”s force the child to relinquish the entire haul. The clean pen-and-watercolor panels and spreads are by turn humorous and dramatic. Children will enjoy following the dog’s storyline as much as the child’s; in fact, it is the canine’s quiet efforts that ultimately lead to a red-letter day. The conclusion (foreshadowed before the title page) reveals a larger story. Although the pair was trolling for the letters in “fish,” it was apparently done to help nearby race organizers correct their incomplete “finish”-line sign—and conclude the competition. The child has short, textured black hair and is hoisted at the end of the story by a pair of runners depicted ambiguously enough to allow readers to see a biracial set of parents, possibly same-sex.

A full-bodied story with an economy of style, this will be particularly rewarding for emerging readers. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: May 31st, 2016
ISBN: 978-1-62672-333-7
Page count: 32pp
Publisher: Neal Porter/Roaring Brook
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15th, 2016


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