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A Fish Named Glub

A Fish Named Glub

3.5 2
by Dan Bar-el, Josee Bisaillon (Illustrator)

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In this truly original picture book, a fish named Glub ponders the big questions (?Who am I?? ?What do I need?? ?Where do I belong??) as he looks out from his fishbowl at the end of the counter at Foster G. Willikers's diner. For every one of his questions, Glub instantly receives an answer via the variety of conversations he overhears, as the colorful people who


In this truly original picture book, a fish named Glub ponders the big questions (?Who am I?? ?What do I need?? ?Where do I belong??) as he looks out from his fishbowl at the end of the counter at Foster G. Willikers's diner. For every one of his questions, Glub instantly receives an answer via the variety of conversations he overhears, as the colorful people who frequent the diner go about the business of their lives. At the same time, all these people, including Foster, are finding some answers of their own as they look back at Glub swimming around in his bowl.

Rich yet accessible collage-style illustrations by Josée Bisaillon warmly invite readers into Glub's world on each of the spreads of this unique book, while the text alternates between the poetry-inspired thoughts of Glub and the lively dialogue of the humans. What award-winning children's author and storyteller Dan Bar-el manages to do in this moving and optimistic book is to present two different layers within one story. There is the delightful, simple narrative about what happens to Glub and the people in the diner —- a fun, humorous read-aloud, perfect for storytime. But there is also a more reflective and poignant tale here of love, self-discovery and hope, which provide an opportunity for deeper reading, understanding and critical thinking, and which would make an excellent resource for a character education lesson on dealing with feelings.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Bar-el’s (Dream Boats) tale of a fish who changes the lives of the employees and patrons of a small diner has the scope of a novel. Like a small child, Glub learns about himself by echoing what he hears. His name comes from a girl’s exclamation—“Glub!” she shouts—and his first piece of self-knowledge comes from the girl’s mother, Jenny: “Leave that poor fish alone.” “Oh,” thinks Glub, “I am Glub, all alone.” With quiet humor, Bisaillon (Oh No, School!) shows the diner’s customers as a series of rear ends perched on stools, with Glub on the furthest one peering anxiously out at the world. Readers learn that grill cook Foster is sweet on Jenny, and wishes desperately for adventure and change; luckily (and unexpectedly), Glub possesses the power to show people their dreams, and he bestows his gift on Foster. While young readers may not be concerned with adult hopes and despairs, Bar-el’s lyrical prose and Glub’s underdog (underfish?) triumph offer entertainment for those who aren’t actively wondering what they’re meant to be doing with their lives. Ages 4–8. Illustrator’s agent: Morgan Gaynin Inc. (Apr.)
Children's Literature - Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
In this unusual tale, the hero is a fish in a bowl who does a lot of wondering. Taking his name from the “Glub!” shouted by a girl, he sits in his bowl, abandoned in a diner, an object of concern. “Glub in a bowl, all alone. Far from home.” This is a repeated refrain as Glub learns lessons from the folks in the diner; he makes a little girl happy and puzzles the diner’s owner Foster. Strange things happen in the bowl and in the diner. Finally, as three from the diner put their hands in Glub’s bowl, true magic makes a happy ending for all. The three appear with him on the back cover; Foster and Glub are on the front, stylistically created in sketchy mixed media. The philosophical and charming small yellow fish is the center of interest surrounded by the small talk of the diner patrons, sometimes joining in. There is a lot to think about as the story works its way to the end, with Glub finally out of his bowl. Reviewer: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz; Ages 4 to 8.
School Library Journal
K-Gr 3—Rendered in mixed media in warm hues, with stylized illustrations and an introspective philosophy, this story is about a fish who learns about how he ended up in his bowl at Foster G. Williker's diner. The rhyming text moves the story along as customers come in and out of the diner and stop to talk to Glub. As they offer tips for taking care of him, Glub shows them their memories and their dreams through fish bubbles, making even the most skeptical person happy. Eventually, Glub shows the diner's owner his true dream for happiness and even shares one of his own. Similar to Devin Scillian's Memoirs of a Goldfish (Sleeping Bear, 2010), this story will appeal to older children who grasp the power of dreams, hopes, and memories, while younger children will enjoy the antics of Glub and the people he meets during his time at the diner.—Melissa Smith, Royal Oak Public Library, MI
Kirkus Reviews
A lyrical story about life and its mysteries told from the point of view of a small fish living in a glass fishbowl in a diner. Eschewing the current picture-book trend of haiku-like brevity, Bar-el unhurriedly spins out his story with a delicate touch and gentle humor. Glub swims around in his glass bowl on the counter of the diner and ponders the big questions: "Who am I?" "Where do I come from?" "What do I need?" "What is a home?" Each of Glub's endearing ponderings are accompanied by Bisaillon's equally endearing double-page spreads that, in their sharp-edged execution and piquant style, contrast well with the innocence and expansiveness of Glub's musings. Glub answers his own questions by observing the conversations and behaviors of the people in his surroundings, and these answers build to reveal, in the end, the answer to the big puzzle. Although the overarching themes of dreams and love may not connect completely with very young readers, their adult read-aloud partners will very likely be charmed. A story that is as delightful in its individual parts as it is in its sweeping theme of dreams rediscovered and the small push of self-belief needed to follow them. (Picture book. 3-8)

Product Details

Kids Can Press, Limited
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
9.10(w) x 9.10(h) x 0.50(d)
AD350L (what's this?)
Age Range:
4 - 8 Years

Related Subjects

Meet the Author

Dan Bar-el is an award-winning children's author, educator and storyteller. His writing includes both chapter books and picture books. Dan currently travels across the country, visiting schools and libraries to present his books, give storytelling performances and lead different writing workshops. Back in Vancouver, he teaches creative writing courses for children through the organization Creative Writing for Children Society (CWC). He shares his life with artist and goldsmith Dominique Bréchault and Sasha, the smartest and cutest cat in the known universe.

As a young girl, Josée loved drawing cats and houses. She really enjoyed school and always returned home full of stories to tell (and, of course, to draw!). She liked being in the classroom so much that she pursued her education all the way to university, where she studied graphic design. It was there that she fell in love with the occupation of illustrator.

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A Fish Named Glub 3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
book4children More than 1 year ago
I'm not sure what to think about this picture book. On the plus side, the illustrations are gorgeous. The artist has a unique style that I can't help but be drawn to . In fact, the illustrations are what caused me to pick the book up in the first place. The story is beautifully written and has an interesting message to it. I liked the fish's search for home and his view on the world from inside his glass bowl. However, I'm not sure that kids will like the story. I read it to my kids and they were both confused at the end. While the writing was fun, it was WAY over my kids' heads. They didn't understand what the book was about or what it was trying to say. So I'm going straight down the middle and giving it three stars.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I received an eARC copy of this book from the publisher. Here is my honest review. This is a really sweet book for children that talks about some pretty big concepts. The sweet illustrations and charming text made this a delightful read. This is a great book for a classroom read aloud. There are several characters giving lots of opportunities for specific voices which children really love.  There are also several conversations that can take place over themes such as loneliness, frienship, acceptance, dreams/goals. Glub considers several times throughout the text; as a preschool educator, I firmly believe that we must model thinking to our young children today. We all think, but as teachers, we can help our students learn to think at a much higher level.  This book is going on my wish list. I read this with my 7 year old and he said "it was good".