Book Review: Fish is Fish

Rating: ★★★★☆

A baby fish and a tadpole in a pond become friends.  When the tadpole grows into a frog, he leaves the water to explore the land above.  Upon hearing from his friend about this wondrous world, the fish decides to go see it.  But he leaves the water at his peril, only to be rescued just in time by the frog.

This is not a moralistic story, but it lays some groundwork for an understanding of what constitutes truth.  This especially relates to the postmodern idea that reality (especially spiritual reality) is whatever we perceive it to be.  In this story the fish imagines birds, cows, humans, and other animals as fish-shaped beings.  His perception does not alter the true form of birds, cows, humans and other animals — and chortling children will understand this as the fish’s funny conceptions are juxtaposed with reality.

The point is driven home not only with humor but also with dramatic tension.  Although the fish perceives the world above as a place where he can thrive, he is proven wrong when he attempts to breathe air.  After returning to his own environment, he admits that “fish is fish” and accepts his place in the pond.  So the story dramatizes the truth that there are certain laws inherent in the created order, and that to ignore them is dangerous.

Storytime at Christopher's fish-themed birthday party, June 2009

Storytime at Christopher's fish-themed birthday party, June 2009

Shanna Gonzalez, June 2009

Shanna Gonzalez, June 2009

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Publication Information: Lionni, Leo. Fish is Fish. Pantheon. 1970. ISBN: 0394827996.
Categories: 4 Stars, Age 00-04, Honey For a Child's Heart
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Posted on August 4, 2009


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