cover image Carl Caught a Flying Fish

Carl Caught a Flying Fish

O'Malley, Kevin O'Malley. Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing, $13 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-689-80098-6

Ignoring a ""No Fishing"" sign, a boy named Carl casts his line and reels in big trouble. Although this tale mimics the scheme and singsong meter of ""Mary Had a Little Lamb,"" the catch of the day is no docile sheep; instead, it's a peculiar orange fish with white wings and a haughty, heavy-lidded gaze. The shifty-eyed fish goes home with Carl, where it promptly crawls out of an aquarium and empties the pantry of food. Then, per the original nursery rhyme, ""He followed Carl to school next day.../ To be his show-and-tell."" The children laugh and play as the fish bounces a ball off the teacher's head, but Carl's grin fades when his pet splashes paint all over the classroom. Using colored pencil, marker and gesso, O'Malley (Rollercoaster; Cinder Edna) draws his human characters in various states of surprise, amusement and annoyance--and his fish in perpetual self-satisfaction. Yet the hilarity that would justify this excursive silliness never materializes. The visual slapstick, like the rhyme, feels forced. Ages 3-7. (May)