Fish: a Novel Book Poster Image

Fish: a Novel



Aid-worker family races to safety ahead of war.

What parents need to know

Positive messages
Not applicable

A man is shot and killed.

Not applicable
Not applicable
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Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this engrossing, uplifting story of survival could be used to discuss the costs of war, humanitarian aid workers, and refugees in nearly any conflict on earth.

Kids say

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What's the story?

Tiger's parents are aid workers in an unspecified war- and drought-ravaged country. Now, with the fighting moving into their area and the people they were helping all gone, they must flee on foot across drought-parched mountains to try to cross a closed border.

Just before they leave, Tiger finds a fish, miraculously still alive, in a drying puddle. They put the fish in a pot with a bit of their remaining fresh water, and set out on their trek, led by the Guide and a donkey. Along the way they encounter hardship, privations, and soldiers, but Tiger is determined to keep the fish alive until they reach their destination.

Is it any good?


With many layers of symbolism, this engrossing, uplifting survival story by a first-time author lingers in the mind long after the ending, and makes for a terrific discussion-group selection. It's interesting that Tiger's gender, race, and even the country and continent in which the story takes place are never mentioned; Tiger is Everychild, in everyplace where conflict and hardship are endemic.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about how Tiger copes with his family's circumstances. How does he make the best of the situation? How does he learn to help others less fortunate than him?

Book details

Author:L. S. Matthews
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:Delacorte Press
Publication date:August 22, 2004
Number of pages:183
Publisher's recommended age(s):10 - 14

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Educator and Parent Written bydellap November 26, 2014

Great narrator and wonderful book

This was not, for us, the typical children's book. This topic, of surviving war and hardship, was much deeper and exciting story. The narration is fabulous, keeping it attention and pleasant to hear. The topic is sensitive, possible leading to many questions and discussion, but excellent in offering perspective from the rest of the world of what life can be like in a way that is not too dramatic. There is one exert in which a man is killed and Tiger finds herself beside the dead body. My children handled it very well. They are 10 and 4 years old.
What other families should know
Educational value
Great messages
Great role models


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