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  • Comstock Read Aloud Book Award 2014

Curriculum Materials Center

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  • 2014 Comstock Read Aloud Book Award

    Papa's Mechanical Fish written by Candace Fleming and illustrated by Boris Kulikov and published by Margaret Ferguson Books, a division of Farrar Straus Giroux, 2013.

    Papas Mechanical FishThe story begins with an introduction to an inventor, his crazy ideas, and his family. The onomatopoeia draws all readers into the hard and diligent work of a brilliant mind that tinkers around waiting for that one fantastic idea. In lieu of obtaining that fantastic idea, the family decides to go fishing. While on a pier on Lake Michigan, one of the children poses a thoughtful question, "Papa, have you ever wondered what it's like to be a fish?" and the story surges through Papa's quest to make a fish-like machine that allows people to explore and experience the water as fish do. After many trials and tribulations and  tinkering sounds, there is success!

    The vibrant colors and rich texture make the multi-perspective illustrations magnificent. Page by page, readers are taken to new heights and great depths exploring the journey of this quirky inventor and his outstanding family. It is as though you can feel the scales of the fish and breathe the taste and texture of a workshop. The combination of enticing dialogue and rich illustrations encourages robust interaction between readers of all ages and the story.

    Children ages 8 to 10 found this book interesting, funny, and cool. The students "loved the onomatopoeia and the baby's comments" as well as the illustrations of the expressive dog. This story allowed for discussion of inventions, fixing mistakes, and never giving up. It is an outstanding example of real life being incorporated into a meaningful story for children to explore persistence, perseverance, and creativity.

    Candace Fleming has enjoyed a lifetime of being a storyteller and has written more than twenty children's books. Boris Kulikov lives and works as an illustrator in Brooklyn, NY. HEATHER NESEMEIER