Paul Meets Bernadette

Overview

Visual humor sweetens an artful tale about a fish who suddenly sees everything a new way — thanks to a charismatic companion.

Paul is a fish who used to go around in circles. He made big circles and little circles. He circled from left to right and from right to left. He circled from top to bottom and from bottom to top. What else was there to do? Until one day Bernadette drops in and shows Paul that there is a whole world out there, right outside his bowl, with so many things ...

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Overview

Visual humor sweetens an artful tale about a fish who suddenly sees everything a new way — thanks to a charismatic companion.

Paul is a fish who used to go around in circles. He made big circles and little circles. He circled from left to right and from right to left. He circled from top to bottom and from bottom to top. What else was there to do? Until one day Bernadette drops in and shows Paul that there is a whole world out there, right outside his bowl, with so many things to see. A banana-shaped boat! A blue elephant with a spoutlike trunk (be quiet when she’s feeding her babies)! A lovely lunetta butterfly, with tortoise-shell rims! Simple saturated paintings play off this charming ode to an active imagination — and the way that life changes when a bewitching creature opens your eyes.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
★ 10/14/2013
Two goldfish admire the view from their bowl in Lamb’s promising debut. At first, orange juice–hued Paul spends all his time circling “from left to right and from right to left,” without much emotion or variety. “And then one day, Bernadette dropped in.” The newcomer, a saucy tomato-red fish, makes imaginative observations about their kitchen-table surroundings, pronouncing a banana “a boat” and a teapot “an elephant.” As the fish watch the “elephant” filling teacups (courtesy of an offstage human hand), Berna-dette cautions, “you must not disturb her when she is feeding her babies.” Amused children will protest as Paul falls under Bernadette’s spell, especially when Paul correctly identifies a pair of fried eggs and Bernadette contradicts him: “That is the sun and the moon!” Lamb’s delectable painting technique recalls that of confection-master Wayne Thiebaud; her backdrops resemble buttercream frosting in turquoise, sky blue, and lichen green, and she limns the fishes’ domain with impasto brushstrokes of white, yellow, and marine blue. Her sly approach to the way that love and friendship can alter one’s very view of life welcomes repeat visits. Ages 4–8. (Dec.)
From the Publisher
Amused children will protest as Paul falls under Bernadette’s spell... Lamb’s delectable painting technique recalls that of confection-master Wayne Thiebaud; her backdrops resemble buttercream frosting in turquoise, sky blue, and lichen green, and she limns the fishes’ domain with impasto brushstrokes of white, yellow, and marine blue. Her sly approach to the way that love and friendship can alter one’s very view of life welcomes repeat visits.
—Publishers Weekly (starred review)

The whimsical story is accompanied by striking oil paintings. The two fish are portrayed in fluid orange and gold brushstrokes, while the bowl is a luminous sphere reflecting different colors from page to page. One of the final spreads depicts a homey breakfast table holding all of the everyday objects bestowed with magical qualities through the eyes of the fanciful goldfish.
—School Library Journal (starred review)

In an exquisite sequence, we see the fish, Paul, going around and around in his glass bowl... Everything changes, however, when Bernadette arrives (charmingly, she "drops in"). ... Children ages 3-8 will love that Bernadette thinks a nearby green alarm clock is a cactus and that she mistakes an elegant teapot for a mother elephant. ... This richly painted debut works as a cheery fable for children but also as a tender metaphor for older readers—not in the confusion of teapots but in the way that opening our eyes to beauty can determine whether our days are dull or fresh and full of color.
—The Wall Street Journal

Children's Literature - Lois Rubin Gross
Paul is a goldfish with a limited worldview. He swims round and round in his goldfish bowl, ignoring the world outside the clear walls or anything except his movements in his glass globe. Then Paul is given a friend with whom to swim, Bernadette. Bernadette is an imaginative thinker. She looks out of her round window on the world and sees everything, although sometimes her vision is imaginatively skewed. She sees a banana and pictures a boat. A vase of flowers is a multicolored forest. A teapot is an elephant with many teacup children to be fed. Paul never questions her vision. He has no frame of reference other Bernadette's perspective so he accepts her definitions as unquestioned truth. The illustrations are clear and large against an aqua oil paint background. There will be no problem sharing this book at story time because the pictures stand out and are realistic in their depiction of what they represent. What is not realistic is what Bernadette views the objects as, and that will be the fun of discovery for children. Clearly, a teapot can look like an elephant, both having long, snout-like trunks. However, how can an alarm clock be mistaken for a cactus, or a newspaper for a dress? This is a world of imagination in the world of everyday objects that children may not have experienced before, and it opens up a world of lessons on finding the commonality of shapes in objects and repurposing everyday things in new and imaginative ways. As for Paul and Bernadette, the lesson is that friendship opens new worlds and whether we accept a friend's offbeat viewpoint or not, we can learn and change as a result of looking at the world through new eyes. What a world of wisdom in a small book! Reviewer: Lois Rubin Gross
School Library Journal
★ 01/01/2014
PreS-Gr 2—Paul, a solitary goldfish, spends his days swimming in circles. His life is uneventful until another fish, Bernadette, drops into his bowl. Not content to simply go round and round, she encourages Paul to take a look at the world outside their watery home. She shows him ordinary household items, which when viewed through the curved glass bowl and through the power of her imagination, become transformed. A bunch of bananas turn into a yellow boat and a vase of flowers is an enchanting forest. Some of Bernadette's creative interpretations will make young readers giggle, especially when a blue teapot becomes an elephant and two fried eggs are the sun and the moon. As he eagerly examines the fascinating world outside, Paul becomes equally captivated with his new friend. The whimsical story is accompanied by striking oil paintings. The two fish are portrayed in fluid orange and gold brushstrokes, while the bowl is a luminous sphere reflecting different colors from page to page. One of the final spreads depicts a homey breakfast table holding all of the everyday objects bestowed with magical qualities through the eyes of the fanciful goldfish. Pair this story with Devin Scillian's Memoirs of a Goldfish (Sleeping Bear, 2010).—Linda L. Walkins, Saint Joseph Preparatory High School, Boston, MA
Kirkus Reviews
2013-10-01
A banana is a boat and a spoon's a fish in this sequence of charming, painterly oil illustrations that study the dodgy perspectives of two goldfish in a bowl. Paul has not seen the world. He swims around his fishbowl, maxing out his circle options: big, little, left to right, top to bottom. One day, a more cosmopolitan, clearly more imaginative goldfish named Bernadette is dropped into his bowl. "What are you doing?" she asks. As she encourages Paul to stop circling and observe the colorful realm beyond the glass, readers peer out too, squinting to visualize her delightful distortions. A big blue teapot pouring tea into teacups is a "not too dangerous" elephant, Bernadette proclaims: "But you must not disturb her while she is feeding her babies." A bottle of orange juice ("From the Isle of Concentrate") and a milk carton comprise the city of "Milkwaukee." At first, this book seems to be about how even the most constrained worlds expand with the power of imagination. But since Paul never really gets the hang of it, the story, in the end, mostly just underscores Bernadette's irresistible charms: "Now Paul goes around Bernadette." Fair enough--sometimes that's how it goes. How does life look from inside a goldfish bowl? Perhaps more intriguing for creative Bernadette than for circling Paul in this lovely, debatably romantic ode in oils. (Picture book. 3-7)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780763661304
  • Publisher: Candlewick Press
  • Publication date: 12/10/2013
  • Pages: 40
  • Sales rank: 148,993
  • Age range: 4 - 8 Years
  • Product dimensions: 7.90 (w) x 9.22 (h) x 0.42 (d)

Meet the Author

Rosy Lamb is a painter and sculptor. She lives in a studio with tall windows on a quiet street in Paris. Paul Meets Bernadette is her first children’s book. She painted the pictures for this book while her baby daughter slept by her side.

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