Back to School: Pout-Pout Fish Goes to School by Deborah Diesen
A LONG TIME AGO,
WHEN POUT-POUT FISH WAS VERY SMALL,
HE HEADED OFF TO SCHOOL
FOR THE FIRST TIME OF ALL.
It's a swim down memory lane, and Pout-Pout Fish recalls his first day at school.
It didn't begin well.
He gets lost on the way, and his backpack is getting very heavy by the time he swims up to what looks like an enormous school, unfortunately named ROCK BOTTOM ELEMENTARY SCHOOL.
Inside, he wanders about, wondering where he is supposed to be. He tries going into a classroom, where all the students seem to be where they are supposed to be, looking like they know what they are doing, practicing printing their names. Pout-Pout tries, but his fins flub the job.
He drifts on down the corridor to a room where young denizens of the deep are learning about shapes. He hasn't a clue what to call them, and his rhombus is all wrong.
He blub-blubs and flub-flubs on down the hall and tries another classroom, where the subject is math. Pout-Pout hasn't a clue what to do. His usually pout-pout face is even more droopy than ever.
"I'M NOT SMART.
I'LL NEVER GET IT.
I DON'T BELONG.
I SHOULD FORGET IT!"
But before he can swish out the exit, Miss Hewitt, his teacher, finds him with a word for the wise.
"DON'T YOU FRET.
YOU DON'T HAVE TO KNOW
WHAT YOU HAVEN'T LEARNED YET!
With a comforting fin on his back, she shows him a door with a sign that says BRAND-NEW FISH, a room where everyone is a newbie, and they all begin to learn together.
What's more natural for a fish than joining his school, and Deborah Diesen's recent The Pout-Pout Fish Goes to School (A Pout-Pout Fish Adventure) Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2014) deals, not with worries about making friends on the first day, but the equally scary thoughts about being able to do the work there, an even more pressing problem for some small fry, to whom the work the big fish are doing looks totally intimidating. Easy-going quatrains carry Diesen's story forward, and artist Dan Hanna's familiar portrayals of poor, dour Pout-Pout Fish, whose off-to-school mood is not so good, shows how a lot of kids are feeling about what lies ahead of them. Hanna's flummoxed and glum Fish has a humorous "Eeyore" approach to everything, and his visual jokes along the way make for reassuring cartoon fun for youngsters in the first-day story circle.
Diesen's other top-selling undersea stories include The Pout-Pout Fish (A Pout-Pout Fish Adventure) The Pout-Pout Fish in the Big-Big Dark (A Pout-Pout Fish Adventure), and Sweet Dreams, Pout-Pout Fish (A Pout-Pout Fish Adventure).