Arlene Sardine

Arlene Sardine

by Chris Raschka
     
 

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So, you want to be a sardine?  Once there was a fish named Arlene, who wanted to be a sardine. She wanted to be a sardine just like the silvery, salty fish that you see in those little tins at the grocery store. With the bold brushstrokes of his vibrant illustrations, Chris Raschka follows Arlene’s journey from a fjord to a big net…  See more details below

Overview

So, you want to be a sardine?  Once there was a fish named Arlene, who wanted to be a sardine. She wanted to be a sardine just like the silvery, salty fish that you see in those little tins at the grocery store. With the bold brushstrokes of his vibrant illustrations, Chris Raschka follows Arlene’s journey from a fjord to a big net to a briny bath aboard a fishing boat. And he reveals just how to get packed like a sardine!

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Raschka is at it again, setting picture-book precedent in this witty fjord-to-can account of how one little fish became a sardine. In addition to the deliciously eccentric subject matter, there's also an anomalous plot development: midway through the tale, the heroine expires. When readers first meet Arlene, she's a happy little fish with "about ten hundred thousand friends" who dreams of becoming a sardine. Then, rather abruptly, she's caught in a purse net and dumped on the deck of a fishing boat. Far from being a gloomy event, however, Raschka treats her demise matter-of-factly as just another step toward Arlene's ultimate goal. He then explains how Arlene becomes a sardine: she's sorted, salted, smoked and canned, covered in olive oil, hermetically sealed and finally cooked. Raschka's well-researched text is never ponderous; he opts instead for a playful, poetic approach ("Then she was smoked, delicately. She was delicately smoked. Delicately smoked was she"). The brushwork in his sea-colored watercolors is all swoops and swirls, with such piquant touches as a pink arrow pointing Arlene out in a crowd, and bright-eyed fish with eyes closed for the second half of the story. To top it off, Raschka has turned the cover art sideways and added labels such as "easy-open book" and "net wt. 12 oz." so that the book itself resembles a sardine can. Raschka delivers an uplifting message that death is a regenerative part of the life cycle. All ages.
Children's Literature - Marilyn Courtot
Arlene is a little fish who dreams of becoming a sardine. Now that is a little unusual, since sardines are two-year-old brislings that are netted, killed, and processed into sardines. Strange as it may seem, this lesson on the preparation of sardines is quite informative and anthropomorphizing Arlene has not put off this sardine lover, although kids may not be quite so sanguine. The illustrations are appealing and the text in broad-brush script is splashed over the scenes. The jacket is designed to resemble a sardine can. It is an unusual book that may have difficulty finding its audience.
School Library Journal
K-Gr 2-"So you want to be a sardine" is the provocative opening line in this offbeat journey of a sardine from her birth in a fjord to her final resting place in a can. Arlene does typically aquatic things during her two-year life, dies on a fishing boat, and is then properly processed. Along the way, Raschka provides some new vocabulary ("1/4 dingley can," "brisling," etc.) and a clear and simple description of how a swimming, breathing creature becomes a toothsome treat. The writing style is direct and casually conversational but also whimsical, with dramatic pacing and poetic repetition. The text, in script, appears in irregularly shaped boxes or is artfully scattered over the page and the graphic design is masterful. The pastel palette is unusual and oddly appealing and the clever layout of each spread reinforces the action. Even the cover has been turned on end and is decorated to resemble a sardine can. While the matter-of-fact treatment of Arlene's death and continued interest in the processing of her lifeless body remove much of the potential pathos, the watercolor illustrations take these mundane events and imbue them with charm and humor, making Arlene a piscine personality whose fate may disturb listeners. Lacking the empowering message of The Blushful Hippopotamus (1996) and the color-as-music symbiosis of Mysterious Thelonious (1997, both Orchard), Arlene's saga, like sardines, is an acquired taste.-Carol Ann Wilson, Westfield Memorial Library, NJ
Margaret Moorman
. .. Raschka is the author and illustrator of many wonderful children's stories. . . .Unfortuantely, with Arlene Sardine he has missed his mark, whatever it may have been. --The New York Times Book Review
Kirkus Reviews
Raschka (Simple Gifts) has a way of continually reinventing the picture-book form; here, in his signature splashy watercolors and brash calligraphy, he tells the story of how Arlene, a little fish who wants to be a sardine, achieves her career goal. Along the way, readers learn how brislings are caught, killed, pickled, and canned; they also discover the different ways sardines are laid out in their containers. These facts are presented in an insouciant rhythm fully invested with Arlene's fishy personality: "A little fish/packed in oil,/in a can,/is a/sardine./Arlene/was a sardine./A sardine/is what Arlene/was." The book's jacket, not incidentally, is painted to look like, read as, and "open" like the tin lid of a sardine can; the entire book bristles with nonchalance, but makes its points with panache.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781453296240
Publisher:
Open Road Publishing
Publication date:
03/19/2013
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
40
Sales rank:
1,299,575
File size:
33 MB
Note:
This product may take a few minutes to download.
Age Range:
4 Years

Meet the Author

Chris Raschka (b. 1959) is an author and illustrator of picture books. He was born in Pennsylvania and raised outside of Chicago, Illinois. He began painting as a child but was also interested in becoming a doctor, so he got a college degree in biology and applied to medical school. On the first day of class, though, he changed his mind. Raschka began to write and draw professionally; his early books include the Caldecott Honor winner Yo! Yes? (1993), The Blushful Hippopotamus (1996),and Arlene Sardine (1998). He has won acclaim for his striking, minimalist style and his ability to tell a story with just one or two dozen words. An accomplished violist, Raschka has also written many books about music, including John Coltrane’s Giant Steps (2002), Simple Gifts (1998), and Charlie Parker Played Be Bop (1992). He has won Caldecott medals for The Hello, Goodbye Window (2005) and A Ball for Daisy (2011), an entirely wordless book.

Chris Raschka (b. 1959) is an author and illustrator of picture books. He was born in Pennsylvania and raised outside of Chicago, Illinois. He began painting as a child but was also interested in becoming a doctor, so he got a college degree in biology and applied to medical school. On the first day of class, though, he changed his mind. Raschka began to write and draw professionally; his early books include the Caldecott Honor winner Yo! Yes? (1993), The Blushful Hippopotamus (1996),and Arlene Sardine (1998). He has won acclaim for his striking, minimalist style and his ability to tell a story with just one or two dozen words. An accomplished violist, Raschka has also written many books about music, including John Coltrane’s Giant Steps (2002), Simple Gifts (1998), and Charlie Parker Played Be Bop (1992). He has won Caldecott medals for The Hello, Goodbye Window (2005) and A Ball for Daisy (2011), an entirely wordless book. 

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