cover image The Sawfin Stickleback: A Very Fishy Story

The Sawfin Stickleback: A Very Fishy Story

Dan Yaccarino, Catherine Friend. Hyperion Books, $13.95 (1pp) ISBN 978-1-56282-473-0

Two children ice-fishing with their grandfather express their dread of the watery depths in this playful story. ``The ice, two feet thick, shimmered a strange blue and white. The water was dark and mysterious,'' writes Friend (My Head Is Full of Colors), as a fish's-eye view of the hole in the ice helps set an ominous mood. As she and Grandpa exchange winks, narrator Katie wonders aloud if she or her brother Mark will land a horrible ``Frecklebelly Chubsucker,'' ``Ninespine Cisco'' or ``Sawfin Stickleback,'' thus setting the stage for a good practical joke. Yaccarino (Big Brother Mike) selects a bizarre palette of lurid oranges complemented by turquoise and astroturf green. He paints highly stylized, rubbery figures with tiny limbs and wide, Pepto-Bismol-pink faces; Mark has the additional distinction of teacup-handle ears. Given the mannered art, it's tough to relate to Katie and Mark as human beings despite the friendly, in-the-know tone of the story. Ages 4-8. (Sept.)