Sunday, May 28, 2017
Goldfish Ghost, written by Lemony Snicket and illustrated by Lisa Brown. Roaring Brook Press, Macmillan. Raincoast, 2017. $24.99 ages 4 and up
mess of birds who were
all excited about the fishing
It was interesting to hear
them shriek, but they paid
no attention to Goldfish
Ghost. They were not good
Turns out a goldfish ghost can be born, upside down and floating on top of the water, when a pet goldfish dies. I certainly had never thought about our many dead goldfish and where their ghosts might have found a new home. Lemony Snicket has, and he shares those thoughts in this new book. It is a slyly humorous look at a pet's afterlife.
While we may not think of ghosts being lonely, this one certainly is. His journey to find company is fraught with the inattention of others, and longing. After a time spent in the bowl, he determines that he will have to fend for himself in his search. Off he floats. Through a seaside town, past the pier, to a main street busy with visitors and activity, to the beach where beach-goers have more to do than notice a ghostly presence, to the water itself where other ghosts are evident, though not welcoming.
"It can be hard to find the company you are looking for."
But, find someone he does and his life changes for the good.
Has the death of a goldfish and its aftermath been considered previously in a picture book? I think not. Snicket's take on it is full of charm and comfort. Lisa Brown uses India ink and watercolors to add gentle humor and delightful details. I love the setting she creates - a seaside town filled with vacationers bent on enjoying every moment spent there. The contrast from ghost world to that of the living adds depth of understanding.
Please, please take time to let your children find all of the telling details!