Although this is based on the Grimm Brothers' The Fisherman and His Wife, the author shifts the setting to Aztec society and reshapes the story so that the fisherman's good wishes come from a wise old sea turtle. Shortly after he frees the sea turtle from his net, the modest fisherman first asks for four fish--a huge bounty as he usually only catches two--but his wife has other ideas. Her greed forces the fisherman to ask for a stone house and riches and the kingship of the Aztec people. But when she asks to become a god, neither she nor her husband is prepared for how the sea turtle will respond to the wish. The illustrations, painted with watercolor and acrylics, are humorous and beautifully detailed, from the grains of sand on the beach to the details in the king's dress. Color choices throughout the book pick up the Aztec feel, as do many of the design elements in the buildings and backdrops of each page. This book is great fun both to read and to look at! Reviewer: Jean Boreen, Ph.D.
K-Gr 3- In ancient Mexico, a fisherman catches a green sea turtle in his net. The turtle is one of the seven sons of Opochtli, god of the sea, and will grant the fisherman a wish in exchange for his freedom. The fisherman's wife is dissatisfied with her husband's wish for a good catch and sends him back to wish for first wealth and then power. Unhappy with both, she wants to become a god. Paddling out into the black water of an angry sea, the fisherman calls out one final time to the turtle, who asks what the man wants for himself and grants it. He returns to his hut to find his wife a stone statue, like the other Aztec gods. Aviles uses acrylics and liquid watercolor, as well as motifs from Aztec art, in the brightly patterned illustrations. She changes the placid, blue-green sea in the opening pages to a truly frightful place at the end. Kimmel reminds readers that "the great turtle still swims in the sea" and asks what they might wish for. Pair this story with Margaret Read MacDonald's The Old Woman Who Lived in a Vinegar Bottle (August House, 1997) or a version of the Grimm brothers' "The Fisherman and His Wife" for an interesting exploration of the same folktale in different cultures.-Mary Jean Smith, Southside Elementary School, Lebanon, TN
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