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Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Pout-Pout Fish

The Pout-Pout Fish by Deborah Diesen illustrated by Dan Hanna
The Pout-Pout Fish
by Deborah Diesen
illustrated by Dan Hanna

Ages: 4-8

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)

What do you do when you feel gloomy? When you think your only state of mind is perpetual cheerlessness? When your whole countenance remains frozen in this doleful expression?

That is what the pout-pout fish is experiencing when we first meet him.
Deep in the water,
Mr. Fish swims about
With his fish face stuck
In a permanent pout.

Can his pals cheer him up?
Will his pout ever end?
Is there something he can learn
From an unexpected friend?

One by one his ocean friends stop by and ask him about it, and all he can reply is
I'm a pout-pout-fish with a pout-pout face
I spread the dreary-wearies all over the place
Blub, bluuub, bluuuub

Until, at last, a lovely shimmering fish comes along and plants a great big kiss so that now, as we close the book, Mr.Fish buoyantly shares
I'm a kiss-kiss fish with a kiss-kiss face
For spreading cheery-cheeries all over the place.
Smooch, smooooch, smoooooooch

The Pout-Pout Fish is a treat to read aloud. The rhyming text with repetitive refrain along with the colorful and playful illustrations by Dan Hanna makes this ideal for the toddler in residence. There is quite a bit of drama with exaggerated expressions in the cartoonish rendering of this simple little fish and his pals. Plus plenty of opportunity to deliver the "Blub, Bluuub, Bluuuub" in comical tones with the little ones joining in the chorus.

While not every word in the book would make sense to a typical toddler, the underlying message that all it takes is for someone to share a hug, a kiss, a smile, a kind word to turn your frown upside down easily comes across.

Deborah Diesen's page with additional resources for this book is quite wonderful.

It seems like every other book I write about here is a firm favorite with the kids... but then again, unless it is much-loved and much-enjoyed, I don't see the point of sharing it here anyway :)

So, needless to say, Pout-Pout Fish has been read a zillion times over with much giggles and foot-tapping - by me and D to the kids, by Ana to Oggie, by Ana to herself, by Oggie to himself (recited, more like it), and of course by me to myself with open-jawed drool admiring how such a simple-looking book comes out of a single brilliant idea coupled with unbridled talent...

The overall blue color scheme of the book might have had something to do with Oggie's attachment to this book as he likes to claim that all things blue are his by default.

We read the recent sequel by the same team, The Pout-Pout Fish in the Big-Big Dark which talks about dealing with fear (of the dark) and overcoming it to help someone in need. After falling in love with the first book, I was steeling myself for a let down, but, not so at all. The sequel is every bit as wonderful!

[image source: Dan Hanna's site]

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At 8:30 PM, Blogger ranjani.sathish said...

What an adorable looking Pout Pout fish ...Shraddha would love this book I guess !!

At 10:34 AM, Blogger Sheela said...

Ranjani, isn't there something about this fish, though?! Was imagining your Story of Radish with the protagonist radish depicted sort of like the pout-pout fish - in a rather comical way to veil the "moral" :)

At 1:35 AM, Blogger Vibha said...

I completely love the expression of the fish - scared, bewildered, gloomy... looking so vulnerable.

At 2:16 PM, Blogger Sheela said...

Vibha, you said. Mr.Fish sort of resigns himself to this mood thanks to his ever-present pout, but, he can overcome it, for sure, as we find out...

At 6:20 AM, Blogger Debbie Diesen said...

Sheela, thank you for this lovely review! I ran across it when you first posted it and kept meaning to blog comment my thanks, but I don't think I ever did. But I am now: thanks for reviewing the book, and I'm so glad your kids enjoy Mr. Fish's adventures!

Best Fishes,
Debbie Diesen (author of The Pout-Pout Fish)

At 10:00 AM, Blogger Sheela said...

Ms.Diesen, I am so thrilled that you took the time to stop by and leave us a note! We love your book! I guess you gathered that already :)


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