cover image Goldfish Ghost

Goldfish Ghost

Lemony Snicket, illus. by Lisa Brown. Roaring Brook/Porter, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-1-62672-507-2

“Goldfish Ghost was born on the surface of the water in a bowl on the dresser in a boy’s room,” writes Snicket (The Dark) at the outset of this melancholic looking-for-friendship story, using the fish’s off-screen death as a new beginning. Brown (The Airport Book) draws Goldfish Ghost in black and white, surrounded by a world of color; he floats through the air upside-down, as any dead fish should. No one notices the ghost as he drifts over a seaside village and beach, looking for someone to talk to. Brown packs her watercolor-and-ink spreads with activity as families enjoy the salt air and seagulls wheel, yet none of it calls to Goldfish Ghost. Even among the ghosts of other sea creatures, he doesn’t feel at home. At last, at the top of a supposedly haunted lighthouse, he finds “very good company” in the ghost of the lighthouse keeper. Goldfish Ghost is an enigmatic hero—is he lonely, or just fussy?—but Snicket’s portrayal of the lighthouse keeper’s intuitive kindness and Brown’s subdued, moonlit landscapes resolve the story with moments of magic. Ages 3–6. Agent: Charlotte Sheedy, Charlotte Sheedy Literary. (May)