Little Fish has gone missing in an African pond. As he putters about looking for his mother he meets the denizens of the place--fish and hippo, okapi and cheetah, jocana and spoonbill--and readers get introduced to some good lively language: the genet's ""lippa lap"" of water, the ""snappa-snap"" of crawfish, and ultimately the ""woosh woosh"" and ""gullumph gullumph"" of the big fish as it swallows a school offish. To her credit, Van Laan (Shingebiss, 1997, etc.) does not make the predicament of being lost one of pure terror. Instead, Little Fish has an opportunity to explore and enjoy some freedom before the marauding big fish gives the search for the mother some urgency. The rhymes have enough verve for story hours, and Conteh-Morgan's sherbet-colored collages convey the swarming plurality underwater very well. For preschoolers who may have more concern for Little Fish than he does for himself, there is a comforting, if partial, glimpse of his mother on each page.