A banana is a boat and a spoon’s a fish in this sequence of charming, painterly oil illustrations that study the dodgy perspectives of two goldfish in a bowl.
Paul has not seen the world. He swims around his fishbowl, maxing out his circle options: big, little, left to right, top to bottom. One day, a more cosmopolitan, clearly more imaginative goldfish named Bernadette is dropped into his bowl. “What are you doing?” she asks. As she encourages Paul to stop circling and observe the colorful realm beyond the glass, readers peer out too, squinting to visualize her delightful distortions. A big blue teapot pouring tea into teacups is a “not too dangerous” elephant, Bernadette proclaims: “But you must not disturb her while she is feeding her babies.” A bottle of orange juice (“From the Isle of Concentrate”) and a milk carton comprise the city of “Milkwaukee.” At first, this book seems to be about how even the most constrained worlds expand with the power of imagination. But since Paul never really gets the hang of it, the story, in the end, mostly just underscores Bernadette’s irresistible charms: “Now Paul goes around Bernadette.” Fair enough—sometimes that’s how it goes.
How does life look from inside a goldfish bowl? Perhaps more intriguing for creative Bernadette than for circling Paul in this lovely, debatably romantic ode in oils. (Picture book. 3-7)