Ugly Fish

Ugly Fish

3.8 5
by Kara LaReau

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Ugly Fish is ugly and big and mean, and he won't share his driftwood tunnel or his special briny flakes with anyone. And that means the wimpy little fish who keep showing up in his tank have got to go. But then one day someone bigger and uglier and maybe even meaner arrives . . . and suddenly Ugly Fish isn't feeling quite so confident anymore.


Ugly Fish is ugly and big and mean, and he won't share his driftwood tunnel or his special briny flakes with anyone. And that means the wimpy little fish who keep showing up in his tank have got to go. But then one day someone bigger and uglier and maybe even meaner arrives . . . and suddenly Ugly Fish isn't feeling quite so confident anymore.

From Kara LaReau, author of the Rocko and Spanky series, here is an irreverent and terrifically funny book about a bully who at last gets his comeuppance.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
With his murky green skin and fierce underbite, Ugly Fish rules the aquarium. "He liked gliding in... and out... of his driftwood tunnel. He liked eating his special briny flakes." But he hates to share. Each time a potential friend is introduced, he snarls, "There's only room for one fish in this tank-me!" He devours all interlopers, including cute yellow Teensy Fish and the cuddly duo of Stripey and Spotty Fish. In post-meal images, readers witness Ugly's pleased expression and see the victim's fin dangling from his toothy jaw; when he's lonely, he does express mild remorse ("Chasing those fish was fun. If only I hadn't eaten them"). Shortly thereafter, dark-blue Shiny Fish-so enormous he doesn't fit on the page, and with sinister dark circles under his narrow eyes-joins Ugly in the tank. Ugly acts as though he has learned his lesson, and tries to welcome the hulking newcomer. But predator becomes prey, and Shiny gets "a nice new home... [burp] all to himself." Magoon pictures the action in close-up, except for a wordless closing image of solitary Shiny, content in the rectangular tank. In this conclusion, Magoon implies the tiny territory for which the fish compete, and not least, the human hand in the fishy murders. LaReau's text, meanwhile, describes a bully's grim comeuppance. But however satisfying the vigilante justice, only a bigger bully trumps a petty tyrant. This cautionary tale shows that violence begets violence, but never suggests an alternative to the big-fish-eat-little-fish cycle. Ages 3-7. (June) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
"Ugly Fish was ugly. And BIG. And mean." Thus begins this succinctly told tale of selfishness and final justice, definitely not for the squeamish. Other friendly fish join Ugly Fish in the tank that he feels is his own special place. They soon meet their abrupt ends. But Ugly Fish begins to feel a bit lonely and so welcomes a new fish. The arrival of Shiny Fish leads to a surprise for Ugly Fish, but not perhaps for the reader, who may find it wryly humorous along with quite satisfying. Magoon's sketchy, cartoony pen and ink line drawings, digitally colored, basically portray the fish characters and a bit of Ugly Fish's tank. Although each is a distinct character, they are not of any specific species. Rather we meet a boxy green shape with protruding orange eyes, thrusting jaw, and spiky teeth, and watch as he swallows a bit more traditionally shaped fish until Shiny Fish arrives. He looms up suddenly, much larger than Ugly Fish, with a mouth that opens to almost fill the page. It is tempting to cheer as we see him contentedly swimming alone in the tank at the end. 2006, Harcourt, Ages 4 to 8.
—Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
School Library Journal
Gr 1-4-Ugly Fish is big, mean, and not keen on sharing his space with others. Whenever new tank-mates arrive, he chases them around and then eats them. Once they're gone, he wishes that he had someone to play with and regrets his actions. However, wishes can be dangerous things, and soon Shiny Fish arrives on the scene. He is much larger than Ugly Fish and looks vaguely sharklike. Ugly Fish, lonely no more, proudly shows his new friend around the tank. Impressed, Shiny Fish decides he wants it all to himself, and, after a short chase, polishes off Ugly Fish with a burp. Edgy pen-and-ink, digitally colored cartoon illustrations perfectly complement the short text's dry and wicked humor. The comically exaggerated details within the sharp pictures prevent the plot from becoming too heavy. While not for the faint of heart, this book will appeal to many kids; they'll thoroughly enjoy its humor and shock value.-Julie Roach, Cambridge Public Library, MA Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Adding to the most recent spate of seemingly innocuous illustrated tales with sudden macabre twists, this deals just deserts to an aggressive aquarium fish-depicted in Magoon's simple, spacious illustrations with spiky teeth and a squarish, pea-green body-who chases and then eats every finny newcomer until an extra large arrival provides apt turnabout. Intended as a lesson for bullies, it's more likely to provide a morsel of vicarious satisfaction for their victims; still, for Gorey, Dahl and Belloc fans, shelve it next to such other unsettling titles as Jean Willis's Tadpole's Promise (2005), illus by Tony Ross, or Whatever (2005), Bee Williams's darker remake of Maurice Sendak's Pierre. (Picture book. 6-8)

Product Details

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
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Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
File size:
19 MB
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Age Range:
3 - 7 Years

Meet the Author

SCOTT MAGOON is an art director who has written and illustrated several acclaimed picture books, including Hugo and Miles in I’ve Painted Everything. He lives in Reading, Massachusetts.

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Ugly Fish 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I found this book to be rather disturbing as I read it to my two year old son. Ugly fish is mean (didn't care for that stereotype much) and uncaring, until he has eaten every other fish that tried to be his friend. Then apparantly the tank owner decided it was time to take Ugly fish out, and found a bigger, meaner fish to put into the tank to eat Ugly fish. Ugly fish is eaten, and that is the End. We did not read this one more than once - and if I had pre-read it, I wouldn't have even read it to our son once.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved Ugly Fish!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Feelix More than 1 year ago
This is a great book it's hysterical. My 4 year old makes the chomping sounds when Ugly Fish eats the other fish. I am Ugly Fish said Ugly Fish
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago