I Used to Be a Fish

Tom Sullivan. Balzer + Bray, $17.99 (48p) ISBN 978-0-06-245198-9
Sullivan makes a strong debut with this clever, matter-of-fact, and much-needed look at humanity’s origins. The narrator is a boy who nonchalantly conflates evolutionary biology with his own backstory. He starts with his beginnings in the sea (hence the title) before moving on to his sprouting appendages and fur, and his gradual transformation from tree-swinging primate (who resembles a svelter, furrier Homer Simpson) to modern-day metropolis-dweller and aspiring superhero. Natural selection is in evidence, but for the narrator, the big force propelling humans forward is boredom: “I got tired of swimming,” he observes at the fish phase, and after he transitions from ape to man, “bananas just weren’t cutting it anymore.” Sullivan’s vignettes have a laid-back earnestness, each one a minimalist, sketchlike cartoon, boldly outlined and employing only three colors—bright red, vivid cerulean, and crisp white. An afterword respectfully delves deeper into the science of it all, but irreverence rules the day, and Sullivan proves that, in this regard, he’s a highly evolved talent. Ages 4–8. Agent: Steven Malk, Writers House. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 08/15/2016
Release date: 10/01/2016
Genre: Children's
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