When a fish who looks different faces bullies, his friends come to the rescue and set the culprits on a path toward redemption with two useful acronyms in this debut picture book.
Finley and Cisco live in Lake Superior. But Finley and his family originally came from Lake Erie—a smaller body of water that some Superior fish feel doesn’t measure up. To set Finley aside even more, a near escape from a fisherman when he was young requires him to keep a safety pin in his dorsal fin. For popular Cisco, Finley’s unusual qualities trigger admiration: he has overcome adversity, and, despite his injury, he’s a strong swimmer. The two are friends with Camie, an ocean fish who can camouflage herself. When Camie and Cisco catch a pair of large, threatening-looking fish picking on Finley, they confront the bullies, who are immediately contrite, not wanting to lose Cisco’s friendship. Thankfully, by listening to Camie’s experiences with bullying, the two really do change their ways. Ozalis-Graham’s clever use of “Friend in Need”/FIN and “Power in Numbers”/PIN bring home the idea that readers should always help a bullying victim because rescuers are stronger together (and Finley with the pin in his fin makes this easy to remember). But the immediate repentance of the two tormentors is a bit simplistic, and Camie’s ability to survive in lake water when she comes from the ocean may spark reader questions.
With brightly colored illustrations of undersea scenes, this appealing tale offers an important anti-bullying theme.