Poor Doreen: A Fishy Tale by Sally Lloyd-Jones and Alexandra Boiger
Mrs. Doreen Randolph-Potts is a very rare Ample Roundy Fish who is headed to visit her cousin who has just had a baby, or 157 babies to be exact. So Doreen is swimming down the river when she spots what she thinks is a tasty dragonfly, but it is not. It is actually a lure held by a fisherman, but Doreen does not know that and she gulps it down. Soon Doreen is lifted into the air and plunked into a basket. She thinks she is just there for a little rest before she heads on her journey, but she is wrong again. Instead a Great Heron snaps her up and carries her off. But as he has her in his jaws, Doreen thanks him for the ride. She then manages to insult him by asking if he is an egret and when he tries to answer her she falls down, down into the water again. So that leaves two very embarrassed creatures: a fisherman and a heron who both lost their catch that day and one rather confused but safe Doreen who makes it to her cousin’s home with a great story to share.
Doreen is a great character, always looking on the bright side of her world though in a rather confused way. She’s an optimist through and through, one who always sees the best, though sometimes at her own peril. The book is designed to be read aloud with the fonts leading readers along the way. It has great pacing for sharing aloud as well as a good amount of humor which always helps. The language of the writing is also very special. Here is my favorite line of the book to give you some of the flavor:
By the water’s edge
a Fisherman wearing a coat the color of the sun
and a Great Blue Heron wearing a coat the color of a stormy sky
with a neck like an S
Wonderful writing with richness and depth, contrasts and foreshadowing. It’s simply superb.
Boiger’s art is appropriately done in watercolor for this fishy story. Doreen pops on the page with her bright scarf and umbrella, both in red. The action is captured nicely on the page, filled with bubbles, swirls and motion.
A clever and optimistic book, children are sure to root for Doreen on her great adventure. Appropriate for ages 3-5.
Reviewed from copy received from Random House Children’s Books.
One Frozen Lake by Deborah Jo Larson, illustrated by Steven Johnson and Lou Fancher
A boy and his grandfather head out on the frozen lake to go fishing. They drill through four inches of ice and set up their canvas ice shack. Inside they open their tackle box and have four watery holes to fish through. Other join them out on the ice and cocoa is shared, but after seven hours they haven’t seen a single fish. They play cards together and wait until night falls then, a fish! A ten incher and a keeper! But the boy has different ideas than a fish dinner. This picture book captures the quiet times spent fishing out on the ice with a loved one. It’s sure to appeal to children who have headed out themselves and waiting those long hours for just one bite.
Larson nicely weaves numbers and counting into her words in this book. One frozen lake, two friends, three bundles of gear, four inches of ice, five hours to wait. Then she starts again from one, building her poetic story upon the foundation of counting. But this is not a counting book, instead it is a celebration of Minnesota winters and family.
The art here is exceptional. The story above the ice is shown in realistic paintings that show with accuracy the relationship between grandfather and grandson. The tones are bright, sun-filled but also cold as a northern winter should be. Below the ice is a completely different world. There the images are done as collages with whimsical old-fashioned touches taken from signs and flyers. The result is a pairing that shows the stark difference between surface and depths.
Growing up on a Wisconsin lake, this picture book brought back many memories of walking the frozen lake and seeing the shanties. It’s sure to do the same for many grandparents and grandchildren. This is definitely a keeper! Appropriate for ages 4-6.
Reviewed from library copy.
That’s Papa’s Way by Kate Banks, illustrated by Lauren Castillo
A little girl and her father head out fishing together. They dig worms together, Papa dangling them from his fingers and her touching them only with her shovel. That’s her way. Together the two of them launch the boat onto the lake and put their lines in the water. They wait. And wait. And wait. Each reacting to the waiting in their own way. The relationship of the two characters allows them each to be individual, each loving the time together and showing it in their own way. The refrain of “That’s his way” and “That’s my way” are used just often enough for them to impart a rhythm to the book, never becoming overbearing or jarring.
Banks writing is just as gentle and patient as sitting in a boat with waves lapping. She doesn’t hurry the story and feels no need to create excitement or danger in this gentle tale. It is lovely in its sense of family, honor of individuality, and overall peacefulness. Castillo’s illustrations reflect that same gentle style with their rich colors and thick lines. She captures the feel of a day on the lake in her images.
Highly recommended, this gentle book will be enjoyed by youngster who enjoy fishing and is perfect for a Father’s Day story time or any time that a gentle read is needed. Let’s hope that this peace and grace floods into the parents who come to our libraries too.