Author: Deborah Diesen
Illustrator: Dan Hanna
Age Group: 1-6
Synopsis: Mr. Fish has embraced that he has a predisposition to being glum and gloomy but when a new fish arrives, Mr. Fish’s notions are turned upside down.
The Low Down:
My sister sent us The Pout-Pout Fish for Bug’s birthday last year and we fell in love immediately. The illustrations really bring to life these fun and witty verses and I enjoy reading it to him. Bug can already help read the story due to it’s repetitive nature and I’m surprisingly able to remember most of the story so we can take it with us as we go. I can remember the words to The Pout-Pout Fish but I can’t remember what that last thing I needed at the grocery store was. Go Figure.
Mr. Fish begins the book by introducing himself as the pout-pout fish because he has a pout-pout face and then begins to speak to his friends in the ocean. Ms. Clam, Mr. Jelly, Mrs. Squid, and Mr. Eight all encourage their friend to try looking on the bright side or to try smiling. Unfortunately, Mr. Fish tells them that he believes that his disposition is out of his hands. He is destined to always be dreary. “I’d like to be more friendly,” he says “But it isn’t up to me.” This line kills me. How many of us believe that we can’t do something because we aren’t capable? A new fish shows up and Mr. Fish suddenly sees things in a new light. He’s really a kiss-kiss fish and he should spread cheeriness.
I love this ending and Mr. Fish finds that he can change, in the end. The book has these bright vivid illustrations that remind you of how colorful sea life can be. They definitely mirror Mr. Fish’s attitude as he becomes more glum the colors fade and take on this depressing greyish hue. This is a great visual for kids. Even Bug understands that everyone is sad for Mr. Fish. When Mr. Fish makes the transformation to kiss-kiss fish his world is once again vibrant.
The story rhymes but the repetitive lines spoken by Mr. Fish are easy and fun to repeat. He ends each declaration of his gloominess with a: “Blub, Bluuub, Bluuuuuub!” Bug loves this part and we draw each one out and try to make them as gloomy and silly as possible.
There is one thing that gets me each time. Ms. Clam is introduced as having “a pearl of advice for her pal.” This drives me way more crazy than it should. Clams don’t have pearls, I tell Bug that’s only oysters and we change the line to “piece of advice.” It’s small, it’s not a big deal. I don’t let it bother me too much, as I strive to be a kiss-kiss fish instead of a pout-pout fish.
- Using the glummest, deepest, and gloomiest voice you can adds so much to the story. Plus it makes it that much more exciting when you get to do all your kisses later on.
I need more!
Oh man are there Pout-Pout Fish books. The Pout-Pout Fish and the Big Dark, The Pout-Pout Fish Goes to School,and The Not Very Merry Pout-Pout Fish. There are even other stories aimed at a younger crowd (Ok, younger babies): Smile, Pout-Pout Fish, Sweet Dreams, Pout-Pout Fish, and Kiss, Kiss Pout-Pout Fish. Deborah Diesen has a few other books as well, available for perusal at: http://deborahdiesen.com/.