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The Rainbow Fish

The Rainbow Fish

3.7 56
by Marcus Pfister

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Rainbow Fish will enchant even the youngest child with his silver scales and heart of gold in this award-winning book about the beautiful fish who learned to share his most prized possession.


Rainbow Fish will enchant even the youngest child with his silver scales and heart of gold in this award-winning book about the beautiful fish who learned to share his most prized possession.

Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble Staff
Shining from Rainbow Fish's multicolored body are several shimmering silver scales. All the other fish in the ocean admire him and want to play, but Rainbow Fish is too proud to play with them; nor will he share his sparkling scales. Alone and friendless, Rainbow Fish soon learns that generosity is far more rewarding than vanity. Pfister makes novel use of rainbow-colored foil to create Rainbow Fish's scales.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The hologram-hued hero of The Rainbow Fish by Marcus Pfister will now glitter and shimmer in even younger hands, in a new board book edition. Also available in Spanish as El pez arco iris. (North-South, $9.95 ages 1-3 ISBN 1-55858-536-2, Spanish, -559-1, Mar.)
Children's Literature - Marilyn Courtot
A beautiful fish swims proudly through the sea. Its shiny scales are the envy of all. When he realizes how lonely he is, he decides to share some of his precious scales. This award-winning book has been simplified and made accessible to the very youngest in a board book format.
School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 1-- Children will be immediately drawn to this book that features an iridescent, metallic-looking main character whose ``scales were every shade of blue and green and purple, with sparkling silver scales among them.'' Adult suspicions of the gimmick overwhelming the story quickly fade as the plot unfolds: none of the other fish will have anything to do with the Rainbow Fish, who always swims by superciliously and refuses to give away any of his special garb. He is lonely and without admirers until a wise female octopus advises him to give away his scales. Rainbow Fish then discovers that sharing brings happiness and acceptance. The delicate watercolors of underwater scenes are a perfect foil to the glittering scales that eventually form a part of each fish's exterior. This is certainly a story written to convey a message, but in its simplicity, it recalls the best of Lionni. Besides, what three-year-old doesn't need reinforcement about sharing? --Ellen Fader, Westport Public Library, CT

Product Details

Gardners Books
Publication date:
Rainbow Fish Series
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
8.47(w) x 11.27(h) x 0.64(d)
Age Range:
3 - 6 Years

Meet the Author

Marcus Pfister is the author of the phenomenally successful Rainbow Fish series, as well as many other well-reviewed books for children including his most recent title, Questions, Questions. He has worked as a graphic artist, a sculptor, a painter, and a photographer as well as a children’s book author-illustrator. Marcus Pfister lives in Berne, Swizterland.

Customer Reviews

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The Rainbow Fish (Lap Edition) 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 56 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I had never even heard of this book until my at-risk students shared it with me. These students HATE to read, and barely even pass their classes, yet they told me, "That is the only book I've ever read all the way through! I love that book." When I mentioned I had never heard of it, they immediately gave me a synopsis of the story. I was so impressed with their attitute toward the book, I bought my own copy for my son. Yes, I understand the negative point of view that many have of this book, but it is also a positive book of making friends. It makes for a great children's book. By the way, I teach high school students who didn't even pick up on the "communist" view of the book. They saw the superficial moral of how to make friends rather than some communist indoctrination.
bluestbluebird More than 1 year ago
I chose this book for my 3 year old granddaughter along with the actual fish toy for her visit to our home. She enjoyed it thoroughly and understood the concepts shared in the story: sharing with friends, resisting the need to be "better than", and having friends. My granddaughter likes to pretend "read" books after you have read them and I was delighted to hear her confirm the main concept of sharing in her own version of retelling the story. I love this little story and it's gorgeous colorful illustrations.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I read this book when I was in elementary school, and I am now a freshman in college. As I remember EVERYONE in my classes loved the rainbow fish. I think that it's moral is quite clear, you should not conform to what everyone else wants or give up your identity just because people do not like it. Those of you saying that it's communist and just teaches children that they need to give things away to have friends need to look a little bit deeper, not just on the surface. Create a dialogue with your child about the book and what they think the moral is. It can teach them not only an important moral but how to think critically about literature and you get bonding time and a better understanding of how your child thinks.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The Rainbow Fish, written and illustrated by Mark Pfister was one of my favorite books as a child. It is about a beautiful fish that makes friends by sharing his most valuable possession, which are his glittery scales. Pfister¿s illustrations attract the reader by the sparkling sliver scales on the rainbow fish on each colorful page. ¿What good were the dazzling, shimmering scales with no one to admire them?¿ The Rainbow Fish realized that he couldn¿t have any fun by himself, even if he was the most gorgeous fish in the entire ocean. Because of his feelings, he made every fish around him feel as special as he was by sharing his noticeable scales. These words inspire the reader to share their belongings with others to make them jovial. These words also tell the reader that it doesn¿t make a difference in how you look, it just matters who you are. This uplifting classic is recommended for all age.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Beautifully illustrated book but very poor message to send children. Do we really want to tell our children that for others to like you that you should change yourself and give up something that makes you beautiful and unique. How about loving rainbow fish for the beautiful fish that he is and if the other jealous fish can't see past that and it is their loss.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The story was very cute....taught about the importance of sharing. The illustrations are very nice & colorful.
Klyaksa More than 1 year ago
My 4 year old daughter loves this book and we keep coming back to it. Will buy again for gifts
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A wonderful story about sharing. The colors, ocean setting, and glittering scales really engage my 2 1/2 year old son who enjoys this book!
KristineFL More than 1 year ago
This is one of those wonderful books that you can read and reread. The illustrations are bright and colorful and the story is a classic. A must have!
Guest More than 1 year ago
An amazing children's book. Teaches a good lesson about beauty and unique-ness.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I bought this book for my daughters and son eight years ago and was impressed by the message. The message I took away was that how one looks isn't as important as how one treats ones friends. All the other fish wanted was to play with Rainbow Fish. Rainbow Fish thought she was better than the others because of the way she looked and wouldn't play with them. It wasn't until Rainbow Fish looked beyond herself and helped the other fish feel good about themselfs that Rainbow Fish understood how to love herself.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is not a book about sharing. But about how one fish is not accepted until he gives the other fish what they want, his beautiful scales. I have 2 young, very intelligent daughters and they are confused by the message. They want to know why the other fish did not try to get to know him and love him even though he didn't want to give away his scales.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I am always eager to find good books for my children - particularly ones that convey a positive message. Everything that I had heard about the Rainbow Fish indicated that it was such a story. Upon reading it, however, I was shocked and saddened by its message. The main character - a beautiful, colorful fish - is basically pressured by the other (more plain) fish into giving them his beautiful scales in order to be accepted by the group. While some consider the message to be one of sharing, I consider it to be one of jealousy and peer pressure. By the end of the story, I felt pity for the once-beautiful fish and questioned the other fishes' motives and self-esteem. Needless to say, I never read this story to my children and am frightened by the fact that leaders in our society (teachers, the media, etc.) actually consider it a positive tale.
Guest More than 1 year ago
PFISTER, Marcus. The Rainbow Fish. North- South Books.1992 The Rainbow Fish, written by Marcus Pfister is an enjoyable, witty tale for all toddlers to enjoy. In the beginning of the story, Rainbow Fish faces a huge decision whether to give up his sparkly and reflective scales to his friends or to keep them for his own. All the other fish in the ocean want to be like Rainbow Fish. They would always yell, ¿Hey Rainbow Fish! Give me your scales.¿ As the story proceeds, Rainbow Fish learns one of the most important lessons in life and that is how to share. This book truly is a heart-warming sensation. The cover of the book is creatively drawn by Pfister as well. On the cover Rainbow fish shines. Toddlers will be as fascinated by the drawings as they will be by the plot. To make a child happy, go to your local bookstore before this tale swims away!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Pfister, Marcus. The Rainbow Fish. Illustrated by an anonymous artist. North-South Books 1992. I.S.B.N. 1-55858-009-3 The Rainbow Fish, written by Marcus Pfister, illustrated by an anonymous artist, and first printed in 1992, will fascinate young readers who are just beginning to read. With wonderful, colorful, and vivid pictures of both large and small fish, readers will be just as amazed by the illustrations and shiny scales as they will be by the plot. The book is about the tale of a selfish fish who will not give up any of his shiny scales to the others. Eventually the rainbow fish realizes that without relinquishing his beautiful scales, he will not have any friends. He finally does share his scales and lives happily with the other fish. The author was obviously trying to teach the concept of sharing, but in some children¿s eyes it could seem as if the best way to make friends is by buying them. Perhaps a parent should read the book before allowing their child to read it. Nevertheless it is a great book for any children beginning to read between the ages of 8-10, or it can be read aloud to younger kids who cannot yet read at this level.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The artistic value of this book far outweighs the moral value. I believe a child's interpretation of this book is a very simple one ... "Only, if I give away the very things that make me feel different and special will I be accepted by other children". The rainbow fish has an attitude problem that needs to be addressed without stripping him/her of his/her lovely scales. I find it discouraging to think that all the other fish have to have a shiney scale to welcome the rainbow fish into their "world". Once the rainbow fish decides to give the scales away, wouldn't it have been grand to have all the other fish respond "That's very kind of you to offer, but we want you to be our friend just the way you are. With or without shiney scales, it's what's inside that counts. We are all special in our own way." So, in my opinion, if sharing is what a reader wants to encourage their young children to do, there are too many other mixed messages in this book. Other books have encouraged sharing much clearer with equally fine artistic value.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
As a teacher I love this book about learning to share and making friends. My students love it.
Pugmom2 More than 1 year ago
I am collecting my favorite books to make grandma boxes for my grandkids and this book had to be on the list! The illustrations and colors are amazing as is the cute little story. I also bought the bathtub sticker fish for them to play with after they read the story n
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a fantastic book to teach children about being willing to share and the benefits of it. It helps kids understand how being greedy can actually make you not feel as good as you would if you were to share. I loved the overall attitude of this book, the sincerity of it, and the illustrations are completely brilliant. Little children are sure to love the shiny scales of the fish and maybe even want one of their own!
kebryant630 More than 1 year ago
I remember loving this book as a child, but as an adult I have some mixed feelings. I still find it magical and alluring, but there are some possible hidden messages about giving in to peer pressure and needing to conform in order to be accepted. That is probably just my adult brain over thinking it, because the only thing I remember learning from it as a child was that sharing was good. Still a great book!
Patito_de_Hule More than 1 year ago
This is a cute little picture book about a vain fish which loves its beautiful rainbow scales more than anything....until it realizes that its own vanity and selfishness has made it the loneliest fish in the sea, even if it WAS the most beautiful. An endearing story about how friendship and giving is more important than outer beauty. 
Meldzo More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
"From each according to his ability, to each according to his need". - Karl Marx This book is pure poison. It is pure Marxist indoctrination. Its insidious and cynical message is profoundly detrimental to children. It teaches not of sharing but posits that exceptional chldren will be more liked and accepted if they become mediocre. It is a perfect distillation of what is wrong with society, the idea that people of exceptional talent are responsible for people of lesser ability to the point that they must deny themselves the fruits of their own labour, abilities and efforts to ensure a more equal society. Absolutely horrible. Alain M. Montreal, Canada
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
My daughter (4 years old) and I love this book. Right now I use it as a tool to teach her manners, respect, and sharing, but in the future it can open the discussion of how sometimes the things that make us special may make us feel lonely and might make others want to exclude us. I will use it to talk about how it is important to make everyone feel included and share our positivity.