77. “Ugly Fish” by Kara LaReau

Ugly Fish was the only fish in the tank and he liked it this way. Teensy Fish wanted to move in. She had good intentions to stay on friendly terms with Ugly Fish, but the selfish Ugly Fish couldn’t care less about company and ate her. Kissy Fish, Stripy and Spotty Fish, they all shared the same fate. Ugly Fish had the whole tank for himself again. He thought he would be happy, but instead he missed the “intruders”. He wished he had a playmate. And then his wish came true. Not exactly, though… The new fish had a wish of his own…

And here is the thing with this book: it is surely a unique take on children’s literature. It is funny, but it is twisted. Usually, picture books are like Hollywood movies, with a happy ending. Not this one. Actually, my sensitive boy covers himself with a blanket by the end of the story. He is genuinely scared of the Shiny Fish! The story is surely engaging, but it is creepy, indeed. Especially when the black humor is reinforced by the not-so-cute  illustrations.

As far as the message, the book does teach an important life lesson. Don’t treat others the way you don’t want to be treated yourself. Be nice, be generous, share with others. The others might become your friends. But, I have to admit, perhaps “Ugly Fish” is not the most suited parable for sweet  preschoolers, is it? Life is cruel, no doubt about it, but isn’t there enough time to learn about it a bit later?

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