cover image Sophie’s Fish

Sophie’s Fish

A.E. Cannon, illus. by Lee White. Viking, $15.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-670-01291-6

Jake, a redheaded, bespectacled geek in short pants—sort of a young Woody Allen—wrings his hands over the prospect of taking care of his friend Sophie’s goldfish. “What if Yo-Yo gets hungry and wants a snack?” he worries. “What kind of snacks do fish like to eat?” White’s (Druscilla’s Halloween) loopy ink, watercolor, and collage spreads dive deep into Jake’s psyche, showing him offering a slice of Strawberry Worm Cake to the fish, who lounges in a chair in a formal suit and bowtie. Cannon (A Crazy Day at the Critter Café) pursues the boy’s concerns to their inevitably calamitous end, which has him envisioning the fish sobbing as it awaits Sophie’s return. A deftly executed sequence of panel illustrations provides genuine suspense as Jake plans to refuse the fish and awaits Sophie’s arrival with widened eyes. In White’s gentle idiom, there’s nothing frightening about Jake’s worries; they draw sympathy for him and, by extension, for any kid who expects the worst. And sometimes, as the gag ending suggests, it’s good to be prepared. Ages 3–5. Agent: Tracy Adams, Adams Literary. (Mar.)