Huijgens (Polar Bear and the UFO) celebrates the power of imagination in this whimsical story of Zuki, a young girl who wants “a fish more than she wanted anything else in the world.” When Zuki’s mother explains a pet fish is too expensive, Zuki takes it upon herself to craft a fish instead, tying a string to its mouth and running through her neighborhood with her very own flying fish. But when she accidentally lets go of the string, her fish takes off into the clouds, leaving a devastated Zuki behind to pick up the pieces.
Young readers will relish the dreamy landscape of this story and rejoice in Zuki’s journey from heartache to celebration. When her kindly neighbor, Mr. Humphries, notices her distress, he unwraps his telescope to help Zuki spot her fish in the nighttime sky, sparking an impromptu lesson on constellations—among which, he points out, “it would be easy for a fish to get lost.” When Zuki finally spots her fish floating by the Andromeda galaxy, and wonders if it will ever return, the wise Mr. Humphries reminds her of the power of positive thinking, prompting Zuki to name her fish Andromeda and to patiently wait for its reappearance.
Huijgens’s message to believe in your dreams won’t be lost on adult readers, and Watanabe’s wistful, kaleidoscope illustrations bolster that message with hints of texture and gorgeous imaginings: the night sky sparkles and glows across the pages, while different animals float high above Zuki and Mr. Humphries. It’s a pleasure to get lost in these pages. Ultimately, Zuki-and her fish-achieve their happy ending, one that Huijgens chooses to render with beautiful abstraction, in keeping with the book’s theme. Readers will find plenty of opportunities to exercise their own imaginations in this fanciful story, and the author includes a link at the end to Andromeda-inspired crafts online.
Takeaway: A young girl unleashes her imagination to find the pet of her dreams in this beautifully illustrated tale.
Great for fans of: Dan Santat’s The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend, Alice McLerran’s Roxaboxen.
Production grades Cover: A Design and typography: A Illustrations: A Editing: A Marketing copy: B