An odd little paean to mullet-fishing and the Florida coast that's not quite fable, not quite love story.
Once upon a time, it begins, three mullet (no, not the distinctive coiffure–these are fish) lived in the muddy waters of Cook Bayou: a wise mullet, a middling mullet, and a dumb mullet. When a boy and his father go fishing one day, only the wise mullet is intelligent enough to flee the net. The middling mullet faints from terror, and the boy's father throws the fish away, explaining, â€œSon, we don't eat fish that are already dead.” Alas, the dumb mullet–too stupid to flee, too unimaginative to faint–gets caught in the net and eaten, fried golden brown and accompanied by cheese grits. With his less fortunate friends out of the way, the wise mullet explores the marine glories of East Bay on a series of double-page spreads. His journey comes to an end in Pretty Bayou, where he meets a shiny-scaled mullet with fluttering eyelashes and shiny lipstick. They splash, play, and eat mud together, ultimately swimming off into a technicolor rainbow. Mechanically skilled yet unattractive illustrations combine cartoon-like figures with picturesque photographic backgrounds. The marine images that form the bulk of this inconsistently moralistic story are its strength, but one truly horrifying illustration–depicting the dumb mullet's bones picked clean–provides an uncomfortable counterpoint to the wise mullet's cavalier dismissal of those he's left behind.
Manufactured, yet whimsical–strangely endearing enough to warrant a second look. (5-7)