Saturday, January 22, 2011

The Pout-Pout Fish and the Big-Big Dark (Deborah Diesen)

Story Summary:
In his second underwater adventure, Mr. Fish enthusiastically sets out to help Ms. Clam recover her missing pearl.   He dives through the water, searching the ocean floor closely inch by inch.  As he gets to a ledge, a hidden voice urges him to set out further to sea.   Mr. Fish swims a little deeper, but his heart goes “flit-flutter.”   Trying to muster up courage, he recites to himself this mantra:
I’m FAST as a sailfish.
I’m STRONG as a shark.
I’m SMART as a dolphin…
But I’m scared of the dark.

Deeper and deeper, he explores the ocean floor.  Each time he emerges on a new level, he is roused by a quiet whisper and his personal mantra.   As he finds himself face to face with his greatest fear—darkness, his bravery begins to wane.  The now familiar whisper (Miss Shimmer) asserts that he can do it!  She cheers him on with her own song:

Two are FASTER than a sailfish.
Two are STRONGER than a shark.
Two are SMARTER than a dolphin…
Two are BIGGER than the dark!

Together they swim deep into the darkness.   With a little light from Mr. Lantern, they locate Ms. Clam’s pearl and reward Mr. Lantern for helping them out.  The whole gang gathers around Ms. Clam to celebrate the finding of the pearl and the joy of friendship.   Together than affirm, “We are bigger. Yes. BIGGER. Always Big, Big, Bigger, than the dark!” 

The introduction in The Pout-Pout Fish post outlines my thoughts on the language, illustrations, and character.  There are several essential motifs that are worthy of exploring in The Pout-Pout Fish in the Big-Big Dark. The most obvious is the fear of the dark that many children (and adults J) experience.  Use this book as a spring board to discuss that fear (or any fear) and how Mr. Fish overcomes it (as well as other strategies for overcoming fears).  Also, this book is about keeping promises.  The protagonist perseveres despite his worries until he fulfills his vow.  Finally, it is a lesson in friendship.  Mr. Fish helps Ms. Clam.  Miss Shimmer and Mr. Lantern assist Mr. Fish.  A whole gang of friends come to celebrate the recovered pearl. 


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