cover image How to Catch a Fish

How to Catch a Fish

John Frank, , illus. by Peter Sylvada. . Roaring Brook/Porter, $16.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-1-59643-163-8

Frank (The Tomb of the Boy King ) and Sylvada (Yatandou , reviewed below) travel the globe to celebrate fishing, and the resultant pairing of Turner-esque seascapes and tight, lyric language promises to both intrigue and challenge readers. Describing deep-sea fishing in Kona, Hawaii, for example, Frank writes, “We strap on steady harnesses/ and brace ourselves in bolted chairs/ to angle for a fish whose size/ can dwarf gigantic grizzly bears:/ blue marlin”; in Sylvada’s painting, the blue marlin rears up over the water, towering over the fisherman in the moment before it begins to thrash. Elsewhere the author and artist take in ice-fishing in the Arctic, cormorant fishing in Japan, logboat fishing in Namibia. Reverent, intelligent verses smoothly juxtapose metaphor (“rags of morning mist” and “turns as patient as a watch’s second hand”) with localized fishing jargon (“spinnerbait,” “fishwheel,” “slack our reels”); various rhyme schemes subtly govern the rhythms. Watery oblique, vertical and horizontal lines converge and edges blur in these dynamic, sensual oil paintings that emphasize the power, motion and mystery of the sea. Muted figures of men, women and children lean alone, in pairs or in groups over variable waters. Rendered in gradations of warm colors applied with thick strokes, the paintings highlight the allure of fishing and the patience required for this humbling activity shared across cultures. Even those who have never held a fishing pole could easily be hooked. Ages 4-8. (Oct.)