L. S. Matthews, Author . Delacorte $14.95 (183p) ISBN 978-0-385-73180-5

"The story starts with the day I found the fish," states the deceptive opening of this debut novel, an allegory grounded in remarkably tactile storytelling. The child narrator, whose name, gender and age are concealed by the nickname Tiger, has found the fish in a mud puddle, after a torrential downpour in the unnamed, drought-ridden and war-torn land where the narrator's parents are relief workers. Spare as the prose is, it teems with evocative details (e.g., when Tiger discovers the Fish, "The glow of the colors had flooded my eyes, like when you open the curtains on a lovely sunny day"). But as war encroaches, Tiger's parents engage a man called the Guide (he tells Tiger his name is too difficult to pronounce) and his donkey to lead them across the border. The Guide respects the child's wish to save the Fish and suggests Tiger transport it in a lidded pot. As the Guide and Tiger's family make a dangerous journey through the mountains, the allegorical elements of the novel take on dramatic import (e.g., the fish changes size to fit the containers available—a water bottle; even Tiger's mouth at one desperate point), and readers can bring their own interpretation and experience to the symbolism embedded here. In keeping the narrative so carefully attuned to a child's perspective, Matthews allows just enough detail—and heart—to make miracles feel possible. Ages 10-up. (June)

Reviewed on: 05/31/2004
Release date: 06/01/2004
Genre: Children's
Hardcover - 183 pages - 978-0-385-90217-5
Analog Audio Cassette - 978-1-4000-8520-0
Prebound-Glued - 183 pages - 978-0-7569-6626-3
Downloadable Audio - 978-0-7393-8605-7
Open Ebook - 1 pages - 978-0-307-52377-8
Compact Disc - 978-1-4000-8988-8
Prebound-Sewn - 978-1-4178-1983-6
Paperback - 183 pages - 978-0-440-42021-7
Prebound-Sewn - 978-0-606-34937-6
Analog Audio Cassette - 978-1-4000-8521-7
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