The Big Fish

The Big Fish

by Klaus Kordon, Tjong Khing Tjong Khing Staff

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In this modern folktale, Jolko and Mila yearn for a child. Their prayer is answered by a magical fish who whisks them off on a journey with the promise of a child at the end. But on seeing the prospective offspring, the two shriek--somewhat jarringly--``She can't be our daughter! That girl is completely black and we are white.'' So they reject that toddler, an ``entirely brown'' boy and ``all yellow'' siblings until the fish loses patience and abandons them to the ocean. Luckily the pair lives to learn that the color of one's skin should not create barriers and that people of different races can live together in harmony. While this message is ultimately favorable, the xenophobic duo's outcries will strike many as unpleasant despite the book's happy if simplistic ending. The couple's initial viewpoint runs the risk of introducing youngsters to outdated--and unwelcome--ideas and may raise feelings of insecurity among children of multiracial families. Khing's amusingly detailed illustrations are sweetly naive; particularly impressive are his depictions of ever-changing underwater panoramas. Ages 4-8. (Mar.)
School Library Journal - School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 1-- Jolka the fisherman and his wife long for a child. After a storm, they rescue a huge fish named Tin Lin that has been stranded on their beach. In appreciation, Tin Lin wants to grant their dearest wish, but the orphans he takes them to are of other races. Jolka and Mila cannot see themselves as parents of a child who is black or brown or yellow. In disgust, Tin Lin abandons them in the ocean, far from their home. Villagers bring them ashore, and the couple are now foreigners in a strange land. They raise two Asian orphans as their own, and live out their lives happily in the land of their adopted children. Traditional in style, but quickly parting from its folktale roots, this initially innocuous work carries a strong message. The rejection of the various children is unsettling; the couple's rescue and subsequent change of heart may strike some as manipulative. Others will be impressed with the straightforward, simple text in this emotionally charged tale and see the many discussion possibilities. A German import, this beautifully understated book is accompanied by detailed, attractive watercolors that are well suited to the story's many moods. --Gail C. Ross, Baltimore County Public Library

Product Details

Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing
Publication date:
Edition description:
1st American ed
Age Range:
4 - 8 Years

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