Saturday, January 6, 2024

Today's read... My Pet Goldfish by Catherine Rayner

by Catherine Rayner
Candlewick Press
32 pages
ages 4 to 8

MAY 21st!!!

Follow Richard the growing goldfish from an indoor tank to an outdoor pond in a story filled with gorgeous multilayered illustrations and sprinkled with fascinating facts.

When I was four, I got my first a fish no bigger than my hand, with red and orange scales. My very own goldfish!

In his big tank in the kitchen, Richard the goldfish quickly bonds with—and even learns to recognize—his human companion, who tells him all about his day after school. A visiting friend, Sandy, shares some cool fish Did you know that goldfish nap with their eyes open—because they don’t have eyelids? Or that they can let you know they’re hungry by swimming up and blowing bubbles? Sandy has a backyard pond filled with goldfish of all shapes and jewel-like colors, some much bigger (and older) than his friend’s new pet. What might Richard’s own future hold? Drawn in by the expressive illustrations and child-friendly tone, readers will emerge with a new appreciation for the beauty and personality of these classic pets. Kids inspired to care for a goldfish of their own will find a list of things they will need in the back matter.



Gorgeous illustrations create an underwater world, which invites to gazing while the basics of goldfish come across in a smooth way.

Sandy adores her goldfish, Richard, and loves to watch him swim in her fish tank. She watches him thrive and grow as she not only discovers his needs but develops a friendship with him. As he grows, so do his needs, and she does her best to meet them.

It's the illustrations which make this book worth grabbing up. The watery scenes carry a wonderful touch of transparency with details to make the aspects recognizable and enticing. The watercolor holds bright colors and keeps a positive atmosphere the entire way through. The situations correlate with the advice given in the text while still holding to the story flow. It's enjoyable to gaze at these and get lost in the underwater world.

The text is well placed as a read-aloud for individual and group settings. The vocabulary is well-set to the upper middle end of the age group, allowing the vocabulary to grow without becoming frustrating. It flows pretty well and allows the emotions Sandy has for her fish to come across in a sympathetic way. 

The text is broken into two categories of font and placing on the pages. The main story stays in Sandy's perspective and dances between a story and, sometimes, a more dry process of her considering Richard's needs. In another font (and usually at the bottom corner of the illustrations) is an occasional, one-sentence fact about goldfish. This fits the scene and adds educational details, which are clear to find and understand. I'm not really sure why these aren't worked into the story, since the scenes head in the same direction, anyway, but it makes for an easy-quick glance. At the end of the book, there's an index with key words concerning goldfish and their care, and where the various information can be found in the pages. 

It's a gentle read, which combines fact with enough story to invite young readers in. The information does help learn about caring for goldfish and is especially nice for those wanting to own one themselves or in connection to a biology theme for groups. As a pure story, it's a bit slow but with the intentions, it's a nice mix. If nothing else, the illustrations are definitely worth enjoying, too. 

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