'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Thursday 28 October 2010

Review: The Little Red Fish

Author Taeeun Yoo created The Little Red Fish during her master’s degree at the School of Visual Arts in New York. The book is a dreamlike journey a little boy – JeJe – makes with his goldfish.

When JeJe joins his grandfather, who is a librarian at an old library in the middle of the forest, he takes his little red fish with him. Setting the bowl on the floor, JeJe explores the massive array of books before falling asleep on the floor.

When JeJe wakes, his fish is missing. Looking up, he sees the fish’s tale disappearing into the bookshelf, so he trails the fish, plucking an old red book from the shelf. But when JeJe opens this old book, something amazing happens – a stream of red fish pours out! filling the library with a small ocean of red carp.

But which fish belongs to JeJe? The young boy looks closer at the book, then falls into the pages, tumbling headlong into another world. We wordlessly follow JeJe as he travels in and around the pages of the book, then finally returns to the library, clutching his fish.

There are no messages, lessons or undercurrents in this book, so don’t expect an extraordinary story… In my opinion, this tale ends on an anticlimactic note, but then it’s the inherent simplicity that makes this book so sweet. And of course, children always thrive on imaginative journeys, regardless of where the journey takes them in the end.

For me, the strength of The Little Red Fish, is definitely found in the illustrations. Charmingly created with etchings and hand-colouring, Taeeun Yoo’s work is a glorious blending of the classic and modern… monochromatic yet emotive and entrancing – with a mesmerizing splash of red and the lingering idea that perhaps real life and dreaming is really one in the same.

Title: The Little Red Fish
Author/ Illustrator: Taeeun Yoo
Publisher: Viking, A$19.95RRP
Publication Date: 3 March 2008
Format: Hardcover, cloth-bound
ISBN: 9780670072354
For ages: 4-8
Type: Picture Book