Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 4.5
Genre: Picture book
What did you like about the book? Three pescatarian animals set off for a much anticipated day of fishing: Bear, Otter, and Porcupine. Also along for the ride, but much less enthusiastic: Squirrel. Bernstein has a lot of fun here, comparing and contrasting attitudes toward the whole field trip. Bear, Otter and Porcupine enjoy the hike, dream of their meal, and don’t even mind the unexpected rain, while Squirrel complains about everything. A last minute mishap on his part results in no fish for anyone, but everyone is happy enough, especially Fish! The author mixes up her story with straight narrative and dialogue for each character delineated with a curved line; this would definitely be a great read aloud if you’re good with voices.
The adorable and fanciful art (a combination of pencil work and digital color) is simple and funny. The animals live in the woods, but with many human accoutrements. They fish with poles and nets and even use a well-stocked rowboat. Kids who like to fish will be able to spot and admire the creatures’ many accessories, including a hat covered with flies and Bear’s multi-pocketed vest. The colors are bright and dense and the characters all have expressive faces and bodies that help tell the story.
Anything you didn’t like about it? I get that these aren’t real animals, but the almost last page, where Squirrel whips out a cell phone to call a taxi to ferry them to a restaurant, sort of broke the mood for me. I would have preferred a cheaper and less technologically advanced ending.
To whom would you recommend this book? A good choice for ages 3-6 as a read aloud, although you’d have to practice to get all the voices firmly in place!
Who should buy this book? Elementary and public libraries
Where would you shelve it? Picture books
Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? No
Reviewer: Susan Harari, Keefe Library, Boston Latin School, Boston, MA
Date of review: April 3, 2021