cover image The Not Very Merry Pout-Pout Fish

The Not Very Merry Pout-Pout Fish

Deborah Diesen, illus. by Dan Hanna. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $16.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-374-35549-4

Holiday shopping can get anyone down, and “a certain gloomy fish” like Mr. Fish is especially vulnerable to retail fatigue. Mr. Fish has several gifts to buy and little time; racing from store to store, he either can’t find the right gift or arrives too late to purchase what he wants. Diesen’s earnest rhymes keep the story moving briskly, though a recurring refrain (“For a gift should be big,/ And a gift should be bright./ And a gift should be perfect—/ Guaranteed to bring delight”) has the opposite effect. Hanna’s illustrations are as expressive as in the previous books, and he doesn’t miss a chance to sneak some humor into the pages, whether it’s the homemade gifts Mr. Fish eventually assembles (such as a knit cap that octopus Mr. Eight wears like a tea cozy) or a closing appearance by Manta Claus himself. Ages 2–6. (Sept.)