A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Unusual new vocabulary in signage: scope & optical, sundries, bric-a-brac, bait and tackle, slickers. Other signage to read: stop sign, etc. A host of sea creatures. Pictures of maps, though not ones we can actually read. Twenty-one balloons to count.
Girls can be strong, strong-willed, and capable. If others are in need of help, we can come to their aid. People in a community can pitch in and work together for a greater good.
Positive Role Models
Sadie is a strong female role model who fixes her own bike and takes complete charge of planning and executing the rescue operation. She's undaunted by obstacles like rain or getting lifted up by a whale. She has a strong, if silly, sense of justice, wanting to rescue the goldfish and right the world's wrongs.
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Only Fish in the Sea is by Philip C. Stead and Matthew Cordell, who collaborated before on Special Delivery, and here they bring back the same spunky heroine. In this book, Sadie takes up the task of saving a tiny goldfish tossed heartlessly into the ocean, and the story has a wild, irreverent silliness. A gang of monkeys barters with bananas, acting as assistants for the very elaborate rescue plan. And all ends happily when the goldfish is delivered to its new home, the fountain in the center of the sea town. Sadie is a strong female model -- determined, resourceful, unafraid, and unfailingly upbeat. The text is dry witted, with lots of detail to follow in the art, so be prepared to sit with this book and pore over it carefully to piece together its wildly eccentric rescue story.
Is It Any Good?
This unusual story about an oddball rescue operation has a spunky female mastermind, a motley group of friends that includes monkeys in sailor garb, and a definite off-beat feel. Even the paging in The Only Fish in the Sea signals that it's unconventional. We read five pages of text before turning to the copyright and title pages. The book has a lot of star power behind it. Author Philip C. Stead, well-known for his Caldecott-winning A Sick Day for Amos McGee, again explores animal-human friendship, though in this book, the story's more drily funny than sweetly tender and heartfelt. The girl who so thoughtlessly discarded the goldfish gets her comeuppance when she has to spend her birthday alone.
There's so much to follow in the art that it almost feels like a search-and-find book. Artist Matthew Cordell has lots of fun with the inhabitants of the seaside town, many of whom are graying and wizened, giving the place an old-salt feel. His people have a sketchy quality that brings to mind Quentin Blake's illustrations for Roald Dahl books, which makes perfect sense, since this story's equally eccentric. And he finds lots of opportunities to underscore Sadie's independent streak. When we first meet her, we see her taking apart and tinkering with her bicycle. If you're looking to spice up your story time, this story adds plenty of salt.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.