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  • 2011 Wanda Gág Read Aloud Book Award

    Memoirs of a Goldfish written by Devin Scillian, illustrated by Tim Bowers and published by Sleeping Bear Press, 2010.

    Memoirs of a GoldfishIn this daily memoir, a goldfish narrates two-weeks of his life. From the double-page spread of the copyright page when he is dumped into a small fishbowl to day fourteen, readers follow the frustrations and joys of this endearing goldfish. By day three, he’s looking a bit bored until he’s joined by Mr. Bubbles, a little person in a diving suit. Mr. Bubbles doesn’t say anything, and the goldfish finds him quite “creepy.” More and more creatures are added daily until the narrator loses it: “‘This is my bowl. . . . I want my bowl back!’” When he gets his wish, he’s content at first but then starts worrying about what has happened to everyone. Maybe a solitary life is not for him. On day fourteen all of the creatures are reunited in a lovely big fish tank, just the right size for all of them. The narrator is especially happy to notice a new addition to the group, another goldfish named “Gracie,” who is “the color of a fresh tangerine.” It appears to be love at first sight!

    The eyes and the mouth of the goldfish perfectly convey his feelings and add much humor to the story. The cartoon style, full-color illustrations become larger and larger as more creatures are added to the little bowl. The fishbowl literally expands in order to hold all of the added paraphernalia. The endpapers showing Mr. Bubbles hint at what is to come.

    This book entertained children from ages five through twelve. Because many of the children had their own fish tanks, they related to the story and listened intently. They laughed and commented as each new item was added to the tank. The names given to each creature add much to the humor, such as guppies named “Rhoda and Clark” and an angelfish named “Cha-Cha.” One first grade teacher commented: “My kids loved the book. We wrote a similar story when we were done.” Readers shared that children wanted to look at the book on their own after the reading and, in fact, “almost fought over it.”

    Devin Scillian, also a singer, songwriter, and journalist, lives with his wife and children in Grosse Pointe, Michigan. Tim Bowers lives in Granville, Ohio with his wife and youngest son.

    An activity guide for this book is available on the publisher’s website. CAROL HANSON SIBLEY