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Monday, November 20, 2017

The Only Fish in the Sea, written by Philip C. Stead and illustrated by Matthew Cordell. Roaring Brook Press, Macmillan. Raincoast. 2017. $24.99 ages 4 and up

""The important thing,
Sherman, is that Ellsworth
stays hopeful and brave, knowing that we're on our way!" "Hey, Sadie, wait! Who's Ellsworth?" "Sherman, you have to keep up. Every fish deserves a proper name."

I have an abiding admiration for the creative work Philip C. Stead and Matthew Cordell bring to the children's book community. Their stories are much loved by many, including myself. I have posted 9 books from Philip and 18 illustrated by Matthew. I want to introduce you to their newest adventure today.

Amy Scott no longer sees a goldfish as worthy of being her pet. Thus, her birthday fish, still swimming in its pet store plastic baggie, is tossed into the sea. What? How could an albeit spoiled and sardonic young girl be so inhuman and unfeeling? This scene is played out in the prologue, and readies us for this new tall tale.

Sherman shares the disturbing news; Sadie is agitated. She lets Sherman know the perils of the sea for that poor abandoned fish. She only hopes it will know that help is on its way. They will need equipment to assure the rescue.

"Now, we'll need to borrow a boat ...
a net, and two long fishing poles ...
twenty-one pink balloons ...
a bucket of paint ...
and appropriate headwear in case of weather - good or bad."

One can only imagine how each item will aid in the recovery. Six nattily dressed monkeys will be their companions in adventure. Sadie has no concern. Sherman's expressive response to her assurances show significant uncertainty. Never minding those same dangers that might harm the poor fish, off they go! Once rescued the villagers rally round, providing friendly comfort and care for the recovered fish. Amy Scott? She gets what she deserves, I guess. 

The dialogue is entertaining and appealing. Matthew Cordell's signature pen and ink with watercolor illustrations will have little ones poring over every page as they enjoy the silly antics of the monkeys, the sea rescue and the triumphant return of the intrepid partners ... with Sherman!

Welcome back, Sadie! What? This is your first meeting? Get yourself to the library, or book store, and see if you can find Special Delivery (2015).

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