cover image Fish Story

Fish Story

Katharine Andres. Simon & Schuster, $15 (1pp) ISBN 978-0-671-79270-1

When Craig encounters a fish named Otto who, genie-like, promises to grant a wish, he brings the unusual creature home to meet his family. Craig asks only that his wife and two sons each be granted a wish. After some amiable socializing (during which Otto confesses he is new to the business and probably not up to ``state-of-the-world wishes just yet'') the family settles for having some fundamental wants met, and thus ends up with a new home, a new member (Otto), health and happiness, and even a trip to England or to the moon. Andres, whose fiction has appeared in the New Yorker , displays a facility with words and some genuine flashes of wit, but her style may strike some readers as self-consciously ironic. McGraw's striking and innovative visuals extend the text considerably. Watercolors in a literal sense, they derive a rich texture from the use of collage and from what appear, variously, to be splashes of water and drops of paint spattered from a brush or perhaps daubed on by sponge. The artist's palette is dominated by searing colors--the brilliant yellow of his sun dazzles--frequently set off against a black backdrop. These graphic, somewhat abstract shapes overflow the page and immerse the reader in the magic, wonder and oddness of the fishy encounter. Ages 3-7. (Aug.)