A young angler finally catches The Big One, but it’s not what readers expect.
Joe loves to fish. Even when he doesn’t catch much, he watches the water and the sky and lets his imagination roam. But McPhail’s poignant illustrations make it very clear to readers just how badly Joe would like his dad to accompany him and how disappointed Joe is when Dad declines his invitations (not enough action, doesn’t like worms); readers are certain to empathize—in fact, his plight is drawn so starkly readers may find their responses overwhelming. Joe joins the town fishing club instead, but when their ice-fishing trip requires a parent for each child, will Joe’s dad agree? He does, but only on the condition that he never has to go again. The duo trudge out to the lake, carve a hole in the ice, drop their lines in, and wait. Greenwald captures in four short sentences the awkwardness between them. But then they start to talk and enjoy each other’s company, sharing jokes and hot chocolate. Though a pink stuffed elephant is all they catch, they fondly reminisce on the way home, and when Joe is getting ready for his first spring fishing trip, his dad asks to come along; Joe has caught his Big One: his dad.
The message for caregivers is not at all subtle, but kids like Joe need them to hear it. (Picture book. 4-8)