Fishing has always been a source of food and relaxation. The challenges have been in finding the very best fishing hole, the best bait or lures, and acquiring all of the equipment that fisherfolk seem to be unable to live without. The American Sportsfishing Association ( www.asafishing.org) has estimated that there are over 44 million anglers in the United States alone; more people fish than play golf or tennis combined. The economic impact of recreational fishing stands at 116 billion dollars annually. These facts tell us that the interest in catching "the big" one is ever expanding. If you have had the pleasure of fishing with a child (for keepers or for "catch and release fun") you will doubly enjoy the following selections about fish and fishing; if you have never had the opportunity to cast your line into the sea or stream, then maybe you will be inspired to give fishing a try for yourself and some young person, as well.
The Biggest Fish in the Lake
Illustrated by Janet Wilson
The young protagonist in this charming picture book loves to fish with her Grandpa. Grandpa loves to fish all year round. He teaches his eager granddaughter how to catch speckled trout from the stream in springtime. In summer, they fish for catfish in the pond. Walleye is the treasure from the river when leaves begin to fall. Beneath the thick ice of the lake lurk the prize trout of winter waiting to be caught by hardy fishermen. The best day of all comes when Grandpa buys the young fisherman her own casting rod for her birthday. Over and over she practices casting until she can hit the practice tire two out of three times. Finally, the day of the big fishing trip arrives. After a whole day on the lake, only Grandpa is lucky. The next morning the young fisherman hurries to the dock alone, and soon she hooks the catch of a lifetime. Young readers will appreciate this story that celebrates the special bond between the older and younger generation, while brilliant watercolor illustrations capture the beauty of the natural world. 2001, Kids Can Press, $15.95. Ages 4 to 8. Reviewer: Sue Reichard (Children's Literature).
The Cod's Tale
Illustrated by S.D. Schindler
The humble codfish is here shown as a creature of vital importance in the history of the North Atlantic. After a summary of the characteristics and life cycle of the cod, Kurlansky details its relationship with the Vikings, the Basques, other explorers, the early settlers, the slave trade and the American Revolution. Changes in technology have led to the decimation of the once numerous cod. The author shows us what a tragedy this is, in a "fact" book that presents accurate information in a wonderfully imaginative way, both verbally and visually. Schindler's colored drawings are detailed and naturalistic with a sly, humorous style. Page designs vary according to the part of the story being told, from double pages for a whale hunt to action vignettes of the technique of salting the fish. Charts, maps, quotations and even recipes are integrated into the design, while a time line runs along the bottom of the pages, and there is a bibliography as well. Don't miss the Japanese fish print on the endpapers. 2001, G.P. Putnam's Sons, $16.99. Ages 6 to 11. Reviewers: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz (Children's Literature).
Booklist Book Review Stars, Dec. 1, 2001; United States
Bulletin Blue Ribbons, 2001; Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books; United States
Capitol Choices, 2001; The Capitol Choices Committee; United States
Children's Catalog, Eighteenth Edition, Supplement, 2002; H.W. Wilson; United States
Notable Books for Children, 2002; American Library Association-ALSC; United States
Notable Social Studies Trade Books for Young People, 2002; National Council for the Social Studies NCSS; United States
Awards, Honors, Prizes:
Orbis Pictus Award for Outstanding Nonfiction for Children Honor 2002 United States
State and Provincial Reading Lists:
Beehive Award, 2003-2004; Nominee; Informational Books; Utah
Maine Student Book Award, 2002-2003; Nominee; Maine
Illustrations by Elliot Kreloff
It is time to go fishing! However, fishing is not so easy. Bear wants to catch the biggest fish in the lake. He picks a spot, drops his line, and waits. The first catch is a sneaker. The second catch is a shirt. The third catch is a tube. Will Bear ever catch the biggest fish in the lake? Finally, something wiggles. Bear thinks the catch must be a very big fish. Wrong. The fish on the line is a minnow! This level one book, part of the "I'm Going to Read Series," is a delightful treat for young readers. Simple, repetitive language along with the story is easy to remember structure of three events will help young readers decode the story's meaning and text. Colorful illustrations and key words to remember on the top of each page offer young readers key support in the reading process. 2005, Sterling Publishing Co, $3.95. Ages 4 to 6. Reviewer: Mindy Hardwick (Children's Literature).
Fishing in a Brook: Angling Activities for Kids
Illustrated by Fran Lee
This is a great little book for kids who want to try their hands at fishing. It carefully addresses all the basics of equipment, places to go, types of fish and includes great descriptions of what these fish eat and where they can be found. There is a fishing expedition checklist that is very thorough and easy-to-follow instructions about casting, including lawn casting practice. Knot tying is explained in simple terms and the art of attaching bait to the hook is clearly demonstrated. Recipes for cooking the fish after you have caught and cleaned it are also included. Instructions for keeping a fishing journal, which could turn into a very interesting hobby, are set forth. The book is well-illustrated with pictures of common types of fishing gear and fish. Both salt water and fresh water fishing techniques are discussed. A great item to include with a small rod and reel for that favorite child. 1999, Gibbs-Smith Publisher, $9.95. Ages 5 to 10. Reviewer: Barbara Youngblood (Children's Literature).
Fishing in the Air
Illustrated by Chris Raschka
The unnamed boy in this charming, lyrical story of a fishing trip is extraordinarily lucky. His father knows how to describe to his young son even the most ordinary objects and make them magical. Street lamps become tiny little moons, and trees become sentries on guard duty. The breeze comes in bubbles. Birds singing become angels. The father would like to "take those clouds, that sun, those bubbles of breeze, and those angel birds home with me." As the two of them fish companionably, the child, who has a feather on his line instead of a hook, casts the line higher and higher. He asks his father to describe the house in which he grew up, and his own first fishing trip. "And who taught you to fish...?" asks the child His father says, with his eyes closed tight, "it was my father." Now each cast the child makes 'catches' one of the things they have talked about. He will take home more than the fish his father caught. Highly recommended. 2000, Joanna Cotler, $15.95 and $15.89. Ages 5 to 8. Reviewer: Judy Silverman (Children's Literature).
Children's Book Sense 76 Picks, Spring/Summer 2001; Book Sense 76; United States
Publishers Weekly Book Review Stars, July 2000; Cahners; United States
Illustrated by Ryan Haugen
This is a basic story of Joe and his father who go fishing and catch two fish for their dinner. The book uses a number of high frequency words, though some simple fishing terms (like bait) are intermingled throughout the text. Blackaby uses simple language patterns and includes repetition to make this an excellent choice for an early reader. The book is part of the "Read It! Readers" series in which individual books are color coded by reading level. This book is on the lowest level of readers in the series. The reading levels are explained in the front of the book along with suggestions for helping children to become better readers. The artwork is simple and cheerful, though I can't help associating the artistic style with "South Park." However, it by no means shares any other quality with the off-color cartoon. All-in-all, this is a solid choice for a beginning reader book. 2005, Picture Window Books, $18.60. Ages 4 to 9. Reviewer: Mary Helen Sheriff (Children's Literature).
Fishing with Grandpa
The kids ask their grandfather to take them fishing; that alone dates this little book, because most of today's kids wouldn't sit still for that long and most don't live close enough to a grandparent or pond to make the request. The young girl doesn't catch a fish, but she catches a can, which unfortunately bring us back to the contemporary side of life--trash in the lakes and streams. While they don't have a fish for dinner Grandma still cooks up a nice surprise. Designed for young kids and small hands, this little board book will stand up pretty well to rough use. There is a bit of a period feel to the soft artwork and the members of this extended family, who all seem to live very near one another. Part of the "Bunny Tales" series. 2002, McGraw-Hill Children's Publishing, $1.99. Ages 6 mo. to 2. Reviewer: Marilyn Courtot (Children's Literature).
Laura Purdie Salas
This entry in "The Great Outdoors" series, part of the Capstone High-Interest Books, describes the equipment, skills, safety issues, and environmental concerns of ice fishing. Pictures are full-color, contemporary, and sometimes generic rather than specific to the text, with simple captions that reflect this general connection. A multicultural array of fishermen and women are shown. Also included are a recipe for Italian Style Walleye, a discussion of jigging rods, baits, tip-ups (unattended lines that pop up flags when a fish applies pressure to the line), and other equipment. A list of equipment appears under a picture display but some items, such as an auger, are listed but not pictured until several pages later. Also pictured are various kinds of bait which are labeled as well as an unlabeled selection of ice fishing lures. The book ends with safety, conservation and releasing of fish, and a photo gallery and information on six typical North American freshwater fish, such as pike, perch, walleye, and bass. The photos are murky and small, displayed against a distracting birch bark frame, but if you know something about fish, you can make out differentiating features. It is a good introduction to the sport. Index, glossary, and suggested Web site, sources, and reading are included. 2002, Capstone Press, $21.26. Ages 10 to 14. Reviewer: Susan Hepler, Ph.D. (Children's Literature).
The Little Fish that Got Away
Illustrations by Crockett Johnson
A fish story from 1956 introduces a little boy who likes to go fishing with a tree limb, a worm, and a pin. Although he never catches anything, on this particular day he finally does hook three big ones, but the little one gets away. The boy pulls them home in his wagon and his mother cooks them for supper, where the little boy eats the biggest one. The simple cumulative/predictable story is stretched to a respectable length with its repetition of action and words inviting young listeners to chant and chuckle. Johnson was already famous for his Barnaby comic strip in PM Magazine and had recently published Harold and the Purple Crayon to acclaim. The pictures are rendered in his signature minimalist style; this new edition has a more eye-catching cover and a heightened color palette for the illustrations (broad bands of bright turquoise water; the boy wearing lime green pants and a tomato red T-shirt). Although the text seems a bit dated, it still rolls along and adults will enjoy seeing a household where Father comes to supper in a jacket and tie and Mother cleans and cooks fish in a white apron over a house dress. The swinging rhythms of the text and the good humor evident in the illustrations remain fun for the youngest readers and will justify keeping the book in print as a classic of children's literature and an example of the style and wit in the work of both Cook and Johnson. 2005 (orig. 1956), HarperCollins, $14.99. Ages 3 to 7. Reviewer: Barbara L. Talcroft (Children's Literature).
The Man Who Caught Fish
Walter Lyon Krudop
Krudop has created a masterful tale about greed and the basic equality of all people in his tale, The Man Who Caught Fish. A stranger enters a village carrying only a pole with a string attached. Each time he drops the line in the water, he pulls out a fish, regardless of the fact that the local fisherman have been able to catch little all season. Each fish he offers to a different person, saying, "One person, one fish." When the king hears of this man, he is sure that he will be presented with a basketful of fish, not just one. But, the stranger surprises him. No matter what the king says, offers, or does, the words of the stranger never waver: "One person, one fish." Gradually, the king becomes obsessed with having the basketful of fish which he feels his station in life demands. But, the stranger has a different lesson for the king to learn, and in the end, both the king and the stranger learn their lessons and get their just rewards. This is a story with a very strong message: all human life is created equal, no matter what your station in life. Krudop's paintings add rich detail to the story. The Impressionist-like illustrations bring the Thailand of a long-ago age closer to the reader. This book would be a wonderful addition to any book collection. 2000, Farrar Straus Giroux, $16.00. Ages 4 to 10. Reviewer: Elizabeth Pabrinkis (Children's Literature).
Children's Catalog, Eighteenth Edition, 2001; H.W. Wilson; United States
Old Salt, Young Salt
Illustrations by Todd L.W. Doney
Young-salt Aaron takes a fishing trip with his old-salt dad, a former Navy man. Very quickly dad is throwing up over the side, falling down and bloodying his nose and getting skunked on the fishing, whereas Aaron is cool, calm and single-handedly collecting a big Chinook salmon. He also steers the boat toward home as his Dad, still seasick and holding his nose, sits in the bow. The "kids rule, adults drool" aspect will doubtless appeal to children everywhere; adults are less likely to be thrilled. Doney's painting have a nice, briny feeling, but he should have painted life jackets on BOTH characters, lest kids get the idea that safety is a childish thing. 1996, Lothrop Lee & Shepard, $16.00 and $15.93. Ages 6 to 9. Reviewer: Donna Freedman (Children's Literature).
Piggy and Dad Go Fishing
Illustrated by Frank Remkiewicz
Piggy is very excited about his first fishing trip with his dad. They dig up the worms for bait and go to the river. Piggy could not get the worm on the hook. "The worm smiled at Dad" when he offered to bait the hook so they decided to use bread instead of worms. Martin captures the impatience of children, as well as their excitement when Piggy finally has a bite on his line. Their sense of compassion is awakened when Piggy decides the fish looks sad because he has been caught leading Piggy to invent a new way of fishing, called "feed-the-fish." The watercolor and pencil illustrations depict the fishing venue, complete with a dock from which Piggy and his dad cast their lines. Their expressive faces capture their emotions. This is a delightful addition to the story time shelf. It is appropriate for so many subjects: Father's Day, fishing, and summertime, or even a story hour based on worm stories. 2005, Candlewick, $14.99. Ages 3 to 6. Reviewer: Sharon Salluzzo (Children's Literature).
Steamboat Annie and the Thousand-Pound Catfish
Illustrated by Howard Fine
The handsome, wholesome heroine is born juggling catfish in the town of Pleasant, on the banks of the Ohio River, and grows taller than any man. Pleasant is a joyous community where every person and animal loves to sing. In fact, the soprano soloist in the church choir is an elegant cow. All this music infuriates Ernie, the thousand-pound catfish who lurks in the river nearby. He retaliates by eating a number of boats and biting off half of the church, which discommodes many of Pleasant's citizens. Steamboat Annie vows to catch him. Meanwhile, Jefferson Jackson, a slimy, mustachioed villain, who is opposing Annie in the mayoralty race, teams up with the giant catfish to get rid of her. Undaunted and neatly dressed in a red jumper, white blouse and beribboned straw hat, Annie hooks Ernie and fights him all the way down the Ohio to the mouth of the Mississippi and back, while playing the calliope with her toes. Victorious at last, she flings the spent catfish all the way to California, and Jackson disappears. The boats and church are rebuilt, and the town populace sings more vigorously than ever. Written in a lilting, storytelling tone, the book is humorously and vigorously illustrated in luminous acrylics. 2001, Philomel Books, $15.99. Ages 6 to 9. Reviewer: Patricia Dole (Children's Literature).
Children's Catalog, Eighteenth Edition, Supplement, 2002; H.W. Wilson; United States
Kirkus Book Review Stars, September 15, 2001; United States
Standards of Learning Information
Project Stars: K-5 Children's Literature and Correlation of the Virginia Standards of Learning, Winter 2002, 1995; Grade 4 Objective 4; Grade 4 Objective 6; Grade 5 Objective 5; Virginia-English-Reading/Literature; Virginia Department of Education
Trout, Trout, Trout!: A Fish Chant
April Pulley Sayre
Illustrated by Trip Park
This rollicking salute to North American fish includes the rhyming names of some 46 fish found in the fresh waters of North America north of Mexico. Most are native to the United States and Canada. Park's hilarious digitally created paintings manage to preserve the fish's identifying characteristics while posing them in various antic situations. For instance, "Chestnut Lamprey, lookin' odd./Pupgish, Catfish, Cod, Cod, Cod!" depicts a hungry lamprey with his mouth open facing a page of a pupfish being walked by a catfish toward a fire hydrant while a cod grins out at the reader. Sayre includes a paragraph of information about each of the fish so that interested readers can learn where the fish got its name, where it is found, an interesting fact or two, and whether this fish is endangered or not. Great fun for fisherfolk and a good companion to James Proseck's beautifully illustrated salute to the sport itself, A Good Day's Fishing (Simon & Schuster, 2004). 2004, NorthWord Press, $15.95. Ages 5 to 12. Reviewer: Susan Hepler, Ph.D. (Children's Literature).
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