cover image Have You Seen This Fish?

Have You Seen This Fish?

Erin Ball, illus. by Pervin Özcan. Writing Times, $21 (34p) ISBN 978-1-73373-750-0

When Jamie’s pet puffer fish, Fritz, goes missing, he sticks flyers (“Have you seen this fish?”) to every doghouse, potted plant, and community board in town. In a quirky turn of events, a bespectacled woman wearing antiquated gumshoe attire and walking a squirrel on a leash approaches Jamie and prompts him to see the disappearance as an opportunity to solve a mystery. Magnifying glass in hand, Jamie dons his own deerstalker cap atop his mess of curly red hair and hunts for clues around Fritz’s fishbowl, where wet paw prints and fishy spines suggest the cat’s involvement; the investigation proceeds with a visit to the city sewers, a chat with a water treatment facility employee, and even a cold trail. The story’s strength lies not in its narrative logic but in Ball’s portrayal of a child thinking critically, asking sources for help, and reaching a conclusion—or a few—en route to a closed case. While the narrative is slightly sparse, Özcan’s cartoon illustrations feature vivid coloring and exuberant expressions. Ages 4–8. [em](Self-published.) [/em]