Tuesday, March 22, 2016

­čîčREVIEW: "The Rainbow Fish" by Marcus Pfister (Childrens Fiction)

The Rainbow Fish
by Marcus Pfister, J. Alison James (Translation)

Publisher: North-South Books
Genre: Childrens Fiction
Publication Date: 1992




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Description from Publisher: The Rainbow Fish is an international bestseller and a modern classic. Eye-catching foilstamping, glittering on every page, offers instant child-appeal, but it is the universal message at the heart of this simple story about a beautiful fish, who learns to make friends by sharing his most prized possessions, that gives the book its lasting value.


My Rating:
I received a digital ARC from the publisher through NetGalley.com for an honest, unbiased review. My opinion is my own.

I bought this for my son because I liked the illustrations. Honestly, I wish that I hadn't. Like others have already noted, the message in this story is horrible as written. That message being that everyone should be the same and that you should give something that you hold dear to others simply because they want you to.

That is the exact opposite of what I want my son to learn. I want him to revel in his uniqueness and have no fear of being proud of things that others may jealously tear him apart for (modesty is good, but recognizing ways that your special is also good!). I do not want him to ever feel like he needs to give in to the demands of others. And I want him to share because he WANTS to share and not because he fears repercussions. In fact, someone who feels entitled to something he has is someone who doesn't deserve it.

So, since I have this book and honestly don't even want to gift it to someone else, I tell my own story using the illustrations. When the little fish gets angry that the Rainbow Fish won't give him a scale, my version is that it makes the Rainbow Fish sad and he doesn't understand why the little fish and all the other fish are being so mean to him. He seeks out the starfish and then the octopus (squid?), who tells him that sometimes people react poorly when they see that someone else has something they want and that Rainbow Fish should explore the ocean for fish who will be nicer to him. RF does this and finds a friend who admires his shiny scales and invites RF to play with his friends. The friends all have single scales and don't make demands of him and RF is no longer lonely. I don't really acknowledge how RF only has one shiny scale at the end, though I'll probably just say that he offered some of his scales to some of the other fish if it comes up. (BY CHOICE, not pressure!). Obviously, this isn't a perfect rewrite... I'd prefer the fish at the end be varied and not all fish with a shiny scale, but that's not what's drawn.

I really couldn't recommend this book to anyone as I really don't like what it's saying. Which is really a shame because it's pretty!

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