cover image Goldfish Hide-And-Seek

Goldfish Hide-And-Seek

Satoshi Kitamura. Farrar Straus Giroux, $15 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-374-32707-1

Kitamura (Sheep in Wolves' Clothing) serves up an attenuated tale only partially redeemed by his dynamic illustrations. The narrator, a goldfish, searches every inch of his apparently vast watery home for a playmate named Heidi, consulting fellow fish, frogs and octopus. He next tries land, but leaps into the clutches of a hungry cat. An inadvertent dance between cat and fish ensues before the fish is accidentally vaulted back to his home, which the art now reveals as a fishbowl. Although the story lacks cohesion and the writing is stilted in places, Kitamura's humor comes through in the cartoon illustrations, which are at once luminous and daffy. Using subtle gradations of his rich palette, his colors seem to shimmer and bloom on the page--an especially pleasing effect for a book largely set underwater. At the same time, Kitamura has a keen, almost cinematic sense of the visually comic. To suggest the growing frenzy of the story, he moves from neatly framed scenes set in the middle of the page to sprawling, distorted compositions that cover the entire spread (one such scene shows the protagonist looking in 15 different locations at once). Yet young children may be confused by the number of fish that look so similar, and may wonder why the initial cast of characters goes missing in the last view of the fishbowl. Even the many sight gags can't compensate for the shortcomings here. Ages 3-6. (Sept.)