Parents' Guide to

The Only Fish in the Sea

By Jan Carr, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 3+

Strong, spunky girl takes lead in quirky rescue tale.

The Only Fish in the Sea Poster Image

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What you will—and won't—find in this book.

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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.

Book Details

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