The Pout-Pout Fish
by Deborah Diesen
illustrated by Dan Hanna
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
I spread the 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 makes this ideal for the toddler in residence, not to mention the colorful and playful illustrations by Dan Hanna. 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 render 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.
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...
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 bluebellylizard.com site]