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The Day I Swapped My Dad for Two Goldfish

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Overview

What if you wanted your best friend's two goldfish so much that you'd swap anything for them, even your father? What if your mother came home and found out what you'd done?

The Day I Swapped My Dad for Two Goldfish is a hilarious adventure and was the first book for younger readers from the acclaimed author and illustrator of the New York Times bestsellers The Wolves in the Walls and Coraline. Chosen as one of Newsweek magazine's Best Children's Books of the Year, The Day I ...

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Overview

What if you wanted your best friend's two goldfish so much that you'd swap anything for them, even your father? What if your mother came home and found out what you'd done?

The Day I Swapped My Dad for Two Goldfish is a hilarious adventure and was the first book for younger readers from the acclaimed author and illustrator of the New York Times bestsellers The Wolves in the Walls and Coraline. Chosen as one of Newsweek magazine's Best Children's Books of the Year, The Day I Swapped My Dad for Two Goldfish is beloved by readers of all ages. This new edition features brand-new jacket art and an afterword by the author on the origins of this unique and wonderfully funny story.

After trading his father for two goldfish, a boy and his little sister go on a rollicking adventure around town to get him back.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Neil Gaiman's wry The Day I Swapped My Dad for Two Goldfish, illus. by Dave McKean, returns in a new edition that includes Gaiman's narration on an included CD, as well as new cover art and an afterword by the author. PW said this tale of a boy who trades away his father is "[an] energetic, eye-catching volume." Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
This slightly revised book first published by White Wolf in 1997, features a larger trim size, new jacket, newly designed front matter, and a letter from Gaiman telling readers where he got his idea for this loopy story. Using some of the same eye-commanding illustrative style to suit an offbeat story the pair used so successfully in The Wolves in the Walls, this one tells what happens when a boy trades his dad for two very nice goldfish. Mom, however, is not pleased and says he and his sister can go across the street and get his dad back right now. But alas, Nathan across the street has traded Dad for a cool guitar. So in a long chain reaction reminiscent of folktales, and with his sister sniping from the sidelines, he gives back the fish, trades the guitar for a gorilla mask, trades the mask, for a huge pet rabbit named Galveston (yes, in the afterword, Gaiman explains why), and finally swaps for Dad. Deadpan humor abounds, and no one thinks this is bizarre, including Dad who is found in the rabbit hutch still reading his paper, the boring event being the one that triggered the boy's trade in the first place. McKean's artwork is often applied to a painted backdrop in which newspaper print leaks through a bit, the inked over line art is dead on, and edgily realistic, the hand-lettered text makes the book look like a junior graphic novel, and the total package just demands to be looked at. The often dark interiors of the book and the conversation balloons make this more easily read close-up but the story pattern is timeless. This is one book that's guaranteed to be spotted by boys, reluctant readers, would-be artists, and teen siblings who recognize Gaiman, McKean, and the"Sandman" series. 2004 (orig. 1997), HarperCollins, Ages 5 to 9.
—Susan Hepler, Ph.D.
Washington Post
“McKean is in peak form here, with dark, spiky graphics that somehow manage to convey both sweetness and menace.”
The Washington Missourian
“Leave it to Neil Gaiman to write a zany tale that’s swimmingly good.”
Time Out New York Kids
“Delightful.”
The Guardian (UK)
“A bittersweet, guffaw-out-loud story from the most distinctive partnership in picture books today.”
The Guardian(UK)
"A bittersweet, guffaw-out-loud story from the most distinctive partnership in picture books today."
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780060587017
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 8/31/2004
  • Edition description: New afterward by author
  • Pages: 64
  • Sales rank: 676,778
  • Age range: 4 - 8 Years
  • Product dimensions: 10.00 (w) x 10.00 (h) x 0.25 (d)

Meet the Author

Neil Gaiman is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of more than twenty books for readers of all ages, and the recipient of numerous literary awards, including the Shirley Jackson Award and the Locus Award for Best Novelette for his story "The Truth Is a Cave in the Black Mountains." Originally from England, he now lives in America.

Dave McKean is best known for his work on Neil Gaiman's Sandman series of graphic novels and for his CD covers for musicians from Tori Amos to Alice Cooper. He also illustrated Neil Gaiman's picture books The Day I Swapped My Dad for Two Goldfish, The Wolves in the Walls, and Crazy Hair. He is a cult figure in the comic book world, and is also a photographer.

Biography

Neil Gaiman thought he wrote comic books. But a newspaper editor, of course, set him straight.

Back when he was riding the diabolical headwinds of his popular series of graphic novels, The Sandman, the author attended a party where he introduced himself as a comic-book writer to a newspaper's literary editor. But when the editor quickly realized who this actually was -- and the glaze melted from his eyes -- he offered Gaiman a correction tinged with astonishment: "My God, man, you don't write comics, you write graphic novels." Relating the story to theLos Angeles Times in 1995, Gaiman said, "I suddenly felt like someone who had been informed that she wasn't a hooker, that in fact she was a lady of the evening."

Gaiman's done much more, of course, than simply write graphic novels, having coauthored, with Terry Pratchett, Good Omens, a comic novel about the Apocalypse; adapted into hardcover the BBC miniseries Neverwhere about the dark underworld beneath the streets of London; and, inspired by his young daughter, put a horrifying spin on C.S. Lewis' wardrobe doors for Coraline, a children's book about a passageway into a magical, yet malevolent, land.

But it is The Sandman that is Gaiman's magnum opus.

Though he had told a career counselor in high school that he wanted to pen comic books, he had a career as a freelance journalist before his first graphic novel, Violent Cases, was published in England in 1987. DC Comics discovered him and The Sandman was born. Or reborn, actually. The comic debuted back in 1939 with a regular-Joe crime fighter in the lead. But in Gaiman's hands the tale had a more otherworldly spin, slowing introducing readers to the seven siblings Endless: Dream, Death, Desire, Destiny, Destruction, Despair and Delirium (once Delight). They all have their roles in shaping the fates of man. In fact, when Death was imprisoned for decades, the results were devastating. Richard Nixon reached The White House and Michael Jackson the Billboard charts.

Direction from newspaper editors notwithstanding, to Gaiman, these stories are still comic books. The man who shuttled back and forth between comics and classics in his formative years and can pepper his writing with references to Norse mythology as well as the vaudevillian rock group Queen, never cottoned to such highbrow/lowbrow distinctions. Comparing notes on a yachting excursion with members of the Irish rock band U2, the writer who looks like a rock star and Delirium and the rock stars who gave themselves comic-worthy names such as Bono and The Edge came to a realization: Whether the medium is pop music or comic books, not being taken seriously can be a plus. "It's safer to be in the gutter," he told The Washington Post in 1995.

In 1995, Gaiman brought The Sandman to a close and began spending more time on his nongraphic fiction, including a couple of short-story collections. A few years later he released Stardust, an adult fairy tale that has young Tristan Thorn searching for a fallen star to woo the lovely but cold Victoria Forester. In 2001, he placed an ex-con named Shadow in the middle of a war between the ancient and modern dieties in American Gods. Coming in October 2002 is another departure: an audio recording of Two Plays for Voices, which stars Bebe Neuwirth as a wise queen doing battle with a bloodthirsty child and Brian Dennehy as the Angel of Vengeance investigating the first crime in history in heaven's City of Angels.

Gaiman need not worry about defining his artistic relevance, since so many other seem to do it for him. Stephen King, Roger Zelazny and Harlan Ellison are among those who have contributed introductions to his works. William Gibson, the man who coined the term "cyberspace," called him a "a writer of rare perception and endless imagination" as well as "an American treasure." (Even though he's, technically, a British treasure transplanted to the American Midwest.) Even Norman Mailer has weighed in: "Along with all else, Sandman is a comic strip for intellectuals, and I say it's about time."

The gushiest praise, however, may come from Frank McConnell, who barely contained himself in the pages of the political and artistic journal Commonweal. Saying Gaiman "may just be the most gifted and important storyteller in English," McConnell crowned Sandman as the most important act of fiction of the day. "And that, not just because of the brilliance and intricacy of its storytelling -- and I know few stories, outside the best of Joyce, Faulkner, and Pynchon, that are more intricate," he wrote in October 1995, " but also because it tells its wonderful and humanizing tale in a medium, comic books, still largely considered demimonde by the tenured zombies of the academic establishment."

"If Sandman is a 'comic,'" he concluded, "then The Magic Flute is a 'musical' and A Midsummer Night's Dream is a skit. Read the damn thing: it's important."

Good To Know

Some fascinating factoids from our interview with Gaiman:

"One of the most enjoyable bits of writing Sandman was getting authors whose work I love to write the introductions for the collected graphic novels -- people like Steve Erickson, Gene Wolfe, Harlan Ellison, Clive Barker, Peter Straub, Mikal Gilmore, and Samuel R. Delany."

"I have a big old Addams Family house, with -- in the summertime -- a vegetable garden, and I love growing exotic pumpkins. As a boy in England I used to dream about Ray Bradbury Hallowe'ens, and am thrilled that I get them these days. Unless I'm on the road signing people's books, of course."

"According to my daughters, my most irritating habit is asking for cups of tea."

"I love radio -- and love the availability of things like the Jack Benny radio shows in MP3 format. I'm addicted to BBC radio 7, and keep buying boxed CD sets of old UK radio programs, things like Round the Horne and Hancock's Half Hour. Every now and again I'll write a radio play."

"I love thunderstorms, old houses, and dreams."

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    1. Hometown:
      Minneapolis, Minnesota
    1. Date of Birth:
      November 10, 1960
    2. Place of Birth:
      Portchester, England
    1. Education:
      Attended Ardingly College Junior School, 1970-74, and Whitgift School, 1974-77
    2. Website:

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 10 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 10 Customer Reviews
  • Posted May 7, 2009

    Just for fun

    This is just a funny little story about two kids out to get their dad back. It's entertaining and frivolous. This is the kind of book you could read over and over again because getting through the story is the fun part.The illustration also add to the fun.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 16, 2008

    Imaginative Story

    My six year old son loved the silliness of this story and all the various locations the story took us to. Fun for both the parent and the child to read!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted October 28, 2008

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    Posted October 26, 2008

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    Posted August 1, 2009

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    Posted October 18, 2009

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