cover image The Fishing Lesson

The Fishing Lesson

Heinrich Böll, trans. from the German by Bernard Friot, illus. by Emile Bravo. Eerdmans, $17 (33p) ISBN 978-0-8028-5503-9

Dapper, clear line-style artwork by French artist Bravo conjures much of the pleasure of this fable. A fisherman dozing in his dinghy is awoken by a camera-wielding tourist, who snaps photos and then harangues the fisherman about how he might improve his prospects. If he goes out more, he’ll catch more fish, which would allow him to buy “a proper fishing boat,” which would allow him to hire help. He could scout for “all the best shoals of fish” via helicopter and open a restaurant. Bravo imagines it all in successive panels and spreads—larger boats, bigger catches, proud crew in sweaters and caps. “And then what?” says the fisherman. “You could come relax here in the harbor, take a nap in the sunshine...” The fisherman replies, “But that’s exactly what I was doing just now.” In the end, it’s unclear whether the now-flummoxed tourist has had an epiphany, but readers who understand the tension between competitive pressure and the need to breathe freely won’t miss the point. Ages 5–up. [em](Apr.) [/em]