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Dear Fish

Dear Fish

by Chris Gall

Peter Alan wants to have some fish over for a visit, but what happens when the creatures of the sea take him up on his offer? Something fishy, of course! At first, their visit is all fun and games, but then, things really start to get out of hand? Watch out for a bucking bull shark at the rodeo, the invasion of a slimy school of fish, and many other playful


Peter Alan wants to have some fish over for a visit, but what happens when the creatures of the sea take him up on his offer? Something fishy, of course! At first, their visit is all fun and games, but then, things really start to get out of hand? Watch out for a bucking bull shark at the rodeo, the invasion of a slimy school of fish, and many other playful pictorial puns hidden in these striking, surrealistic illustrations. An endpaper identifying over 30 species of fish appearing in the book is an educational bonus. Here is a fantastic flight of fancy that every child will savor, with a subtle message: Be careful what you wish for!

Editorial Reviews

At the beach one day, a boy tosses out this message in a bottle: "Dear Fish. Where you live is pretty cool. You should come visit us some day." When the fish accept his invitation, they spark plenty of fun and imaginative chaos. Kids will love scouring each striking, retro-flavored picture, drenched in deep reds, greens, and ocean blues, for fishy humor -- such as catfish chasing mice and jellyfish sneaking off with the peanut butter jar. (ages 3 to 6)
The May 2006 issue of Child magazine
Publishers Weekly
In this surreal romp, garnished with action verbs and visual jokes, Gall (America the Beautiful) imagines what might happen if ocean creatures explored human neighborhoods. Unlike the frogs in David Wiesner's Tuesday-referenced in the bird's-eye view of a quaint church tower, among other images-the fish don't show up uninvited. They respond to a message in a bottle from Peter Alan, a boy who loves playing in tidal pools. "Dear Fish," he writes, "Where you live is pretty cool. You should come visit us someday." The next morning, he hears "a strange dripping and a flipping, a flopping and a gurgling," and a huge emerald-green fish peeks out of his claw-foot bathtub. Gall's endpapers, which identify aquatic species, warn readers of "fish puns" galore; indeed, an airborne school of fish invades Peter Alan's math class, puffer fish (on balloon strings) and jellyfish (one holding a jar of peanut butter) hover in a birthday-girl's kitchen, and a sawfish and hammerhead disrupt the hero's father at his woodworking. Afterward, firefighters clean up the seaweed, while along a rocky beach, a note addressed "Dear Humans" flutters from a conch shell. Gall's precise, linocut-style images are hand-engraved on clay board and finished with digital color; his saturated palette of ochre, terracotta and aquamarine seems inspired by golden autumn sunsets in New England or northern California. Gall borrows from the bizarre visions of Wiesner and Chris van Allsburg, then adds his own quirky humor to this inviting escapade. Ages 3-6. (May) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
A wonderful day exploring tide pools at the beach inspires Peter Alan to send a note in a bottle to invite the ocean's inhabitants to visit him at home. The fish take him up on the offer and the resulting story is a droll view of ordinary life made extraordinary by a flood of fish out of water. From brushing teeth in the morning to going to school or to the beauty parlor, nothing is the same when the ocean denizens come to town. The book, carefully crafted with no detail overlooked, promises a delightful session of reading together, whether for two at bedtime or in a classroom. Though descriptive, the language is spare and chosen with a sense of fun. The rich illustrations are jewel-toned, lavish, and large enough to be seen from the short distance of a small reading circle. There is much to discuss in the story and pictures. The inside covers of the book feature illustrations of marine creatures, each labeled with its actual name, and a challenge to readers to find ten fish puns in the story illustrations (e.g., dogfish pictured in a bun). Although two toothy fish (including a shark) are shown, the fish do not harm or threaten anybody; their visit to the town, though somewhat overwhelming, ends perfectly peacefully. Still, very young or timid children might find the vigorous illustrations of large, swirling fish to be intimidating and need reassurance that, after all, it is just a story of friendly, though unusual, visitors. 2006, Little Brown and Company, Ages 3 to 9.
—K. N. Epstein
School Library Journal
Gr 1-4-While visiting the beach with his family, Peter Alan unwittingly causes chaos when he tosses a bottled message into the sea inviting the fish to visit him. Soon after, a variety of underwater creatures begins showing up in Peter's hometown, and marine mayhem ensues from the school to the beauty parlor and beyond. It is only when the boy writes a second note explaining to the fish that they need to return home that the townsfolk can begin to recover from these unexpected guests. The text has a rich vocabulary, and teachers looking for a read-aloud that ties in with a lesson on action words will find this story a gold mine since it is chock-full of examples. Boldly colored illustrations combine clay-engraved art with digital effects to give the pages a three-dimensional look. Readers who enjoy poring over pictures that are layered with meaning on both the literal and figurative levels will find much to explore here. Gall has included 10 puns in his artwork. Some readers will quickly recognize the most obvious-peanut butter and jellyfish, and the tool-related pun involving a sawfish and hammerhead shark. The others, however, will require a bit more study. Reminiscent of the fantastical work of David Wiesner and Chris Van Allsburg, Gall's art will hook more than a few readers.-Maura Bresnahan, High Plain Elementary School, Andover, MA Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Handsome, comical pictures reminiscent of David Wiesner's Tuesday (1991) illustrate a briefly told tale of a fishy foray onto dry land. Before departing from a day at the beach, young Peter tosses out a bottle containing an invitation to the fish to come visit. The next morning, there's a grouper in the tub, a blue whale soaring over the rooftops and a host of other finny tourists-identified on the endpapers-floating into town. Gall creates strong-lined, digitally colored scenes viewed from angles high and low, featuring large, distinct figures that sometimes edge beyond the frames. He also tucks seahorses into a rodeo scene, a school of fish drifting into a classroom, a sawfish and a pair of hammerhead sharks brushing aside a carpenter and other visual jokes. Closing with a wordless view of Peter and his family driving into the drink to take up a reciprocal invitation from the fish, this tongue-in-cheek outing will engage readers with a taste for the surreal. (Picture book. 6-8)

Product Details

Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
8.87(w) x 11.37(h) x 0.37(d)
AD1030L (what's this?)
Age Range:
4 - 8 Years

Meet the Author

Chris Gall is the award-winning author and illustrator of Dear Fish, There's Nothing to Do on Mars, and his most recent, Dinotrux, a Publishers Weekly Best Children's Book of 2009. His books have received numerous starred reviews and awards including a Borders Original Voices Book for 2006 for Dear Fish and a Kirkus Best Children's Book for 2008 for There's Nothing to Do on Mars. Chris has won a multitude of awards from organizations like the Society of Illustrators and Communication Arts Magazine, and is also the illustrator of America the Beautiful, a Publishers Weekly's Best Children's Book of 2004. He lives in Tucson, Arizona.

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