Higgins Bend Song and Dance

Overview


Simon Henry is all business - fish business. He claims he can catch anything that swims, crawls, or floats. But when a wily old bait-stealing catfish named Oscar moves into the deep hole by Higgins Bend, folks begin to wonder if Simon Henry may have met his match. When Oscar steals the cranky fisherman's redworms and even his best five-day-old secret-recipe stinkbait, Simon Henry's skill is put to the test. And so begins the great battle between Simon Henry and the wily Oscar. Neighbors watch and wait . . . ...
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Overview


Simon Henry is all business - fish business. He claims he can catch anything that swims, crawls, or floats. But when a wily old bait-stealing catfish named Oscar moves into the deep hole by Higgins Bend, folks begin to wonder if Simon Henry may have met his match. When Oscar steals the cranky fisherman's redworms and even his best five-day-old secret-recipe stinkbait, Simon Henry's skill is put to the test. And so begins the great battle between Simon Henry and the wily Oscar. Neighbors watch and wait . . . until the night Simon Henry comes up with his best bait yet and Oscar takes Simon and his old friend Potato Kelly on the ride of their lives. An original tall tale sure to elicit belly laughs from both young and old alike.

A grumpy fisherman vows to eat his socks if he can't catch Oscar, the craftiest bait-stealing catfish in the river.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"A meaty tale of the quest for an uncatchable fish named Oscar is told in folksy, irresistible language." Kirkus Reviews

"This whopper of a fish tale makes a good read-aloud." School Library Journal

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Although everyone agrees that Oscar the catfish can't be caught, single-minded Simon Henry swears that he'll sleep in his boots until he has Oscar dangling from his fishing pole. As Simon tries his familiar "sure-fire, steal-proof recipe," the slippery fish eludes him, and he promises that if he doesn't catch Oscar he'll dance with his fishpole at Potato Kelly's Friday night potluck, or sing with a bullfrog, or eat his socks. While Oscar the catfishbaited by Simon's smelly sockwins the fishing pole tug of war, Simon ends up happily winning the heart of Potato Kelly, owner of the local bait and tackle shop. Martin's dryly told tall fish tale is well matched by Sneed's watercolor paintings of elongated figures and inventive perspectives (one double-spread pictures Oscar's underbelly with Simon floating above the surface). But neither emphasizes the kinds of details in the story that children might find humorous or interesting. The Grinch-like story of a man who "didn't smile one day out of seven" and finally laughs out loud when his fish gets away, is told so digressively and the characters are rendered so subtly, that young readers are likely to miss the levity of the story completely. Adults who love to fish, on the other hand, will be caught uphook, line and sinker. Ages 4-8. (Sept.)
Children's Literature - Meredith Kiger
Simon Henry lives in Higgins Bend. Simon was the best fisherman in town, but he never smiled and never joined in the town's goings on. At the local town hangout, Potato Kelly's, everyone talked about a special catfish in the creek named Oscar. Potato Kelly places a bet with Simon that he can't catch the big catfish. Simon concocts some wild lures, but each time Oscar snatches the bait. Simon comes up with one last smelly idea. What happens has the whole town laughing, and Simon, too. A funny tale with funny illustrations and lots of local color.
School Library Journal
Gr 1-4Pure pleasure for any who are or know dedicated (obsessed) fishermen. Simon Henry, the quintessential angler, meets his match in Oscar, a catfish known for stealing almost any bait without getting caught. While buying fishhooks at Potato Kelly's Bait and Chowder Shop, Simon Henry vows to catch the wily beast, or engage his solemn self in a number of foolish consequences. His friend Potato Kelly urges him on with promises of new boots and more if he is successful. After several failures, the fisherman uses his truly "sour" socks as bait, but it's hard to say if he catches Oscar or if Oscar catches him. Sneed's bucolic watercolor spreads, awash with blues and greens, are ably coupled with Martin's pleasing text. The characters are crafted with warmth and humor; Simon Henry's no-nonsense scowling face and the twinkle in Potato Kelly's eye should not be missed. Not for beginning readers to tackle alone, but easy enough for those with some experience, this whopper of a fish tale also makes a good read-aloud.Jody McCoy, Lakehill Preparatory School, Dallas, TX
Kirkus Reviews
A meaty tale of the quest for an uncatchable fish named Oscar is told in folksy, irresistible language.

Simon Henry's outstanding features are his ability to catch any fish and brag about it, his unsociable temperament, and his tight boots. In pursuit of his passion, he ignores even the "Friday-Night-Potluck-Everybody-Come-and-Fling" party in town. One day, Potato Kelly, female proprietor of the bait and chowder shop, tells him of the "crafty, bait-grasping catfish" in local waters, and the chase is on. The two odd-looking middle-aged characters wager with each other in colorful phrases about Simon Henry's ability to succeed. Since his socks "were beginning to smell worse that sour milk, worse than secret-recipe stinkbait," he uses them as a lure. The catfish clamps on and tows the fishing boat like the shark in Jaws, finally leaving only half a sock behind. Simon Henry must do all the humiliating things he promised, and Oscar lives on, singing in the deep hole by Higgins Bend. The watercolor illustrations exaggerate as much as the text: Figures and landscapes sway with the artist's lyrical lines; perspectives as if from odd camera lenses distort and amuse. Some of the townspeople look quite goofy, but they also look familiar, in a tale clearly fished from American waters.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780395675830
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Publication date: 9/28/1997
  • Edition description: None
  • Pages: 32
  • Age range: 5 - 8 Years
  • Product dimensions: 8.77 (w) x 11.35 (h) x 0.45 (d)

Meet the Author


Jacqueline Briggs Martin is the author of Snowflake Bentley, winner of the 1999 Caldecott Medal, and The Lamp, the Ice, and the Boat Called Fish, an ALA Notable Book, a Bulletin Blue Ribbon Book, Riverbank Review Finalist, Notable Social Studies Trade book and winner of The Golden Kite Award for Illustration. She grew up on a farm in Maine much like the one in this story. She lives in Mt. Vernon, Iowa.
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