Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Bully to Buddy! The Pout-Pout Fish and the Bully-Bully Shark by Deborah Diesen

Deep in the ocean
On a warm summer day,
Bubbled lots of lovely laughter
And sounds of happy play.

It's a wonderful day in the neighborhood for Mr. Fish & Friends. Even Mr. Fish's pouty mouth is all smiles, and the small fry fish and their fellow crustaceans frolic in the waters of Tommy Tickle Park. In oceanic terms, all's well in the sea's swells.

But then a shadow literally passes over this perfect pelagic scene. It's a.... SHARK!

The shark showed his teeth,
And growled as he swam.
"Move aside, micro-fishes!
It's my turn! SCRAM!"

The small denizens of the deep dive down to the bottom. Flounder flaps until he is hidden in the sand. The rest swim for cover. No one wants to make trouble taking on Snaggletooth the Shark. Even Pout-Pout Mr. Fish suddenly feels puny.

After a gnarly pass over Tommy Tickle Park, the shark swims on, and the tiny small fry and spineless crustaceans begin to venture out again and start to play. But the little one ones scatter again when the shark glides by and taunts them:

"Fear the fin!"

But the third time Snagglepuss makes a pass, Mr. Fish  begins to feel his inner superhero beginning to blossom.  He rallies his comrades and faces the big fish down:

"Mr. Shark," said Mr. Fish,
"You have broken up our fun.
Bully isn't who you are,
But it is what you've DONE!"

Boys and girls, don't try this with a real shark at your beach, but Mr. Fish has a good point about facing up. If you can't overpower a bully, maybe you can co-opt him by appealing to his better self and fitting in with the group, and in Deborah Diesen's The Pout-Pout Fish and the Bully-Bully Shark (A Pout-Pout Fish Adventure) (Farrar, Strous and Giroux, 2017) shows her hero Pout-Pout Fish converting the shark to one of the gang, one who even follows the rules: 1) BE KIND! 2) BE FAIR! 3) IF YOU SEE SOMETHING WRONG, SPEAK UP! As always, Mr. Fish learns and returns a new lesson, but it is artist Dan Hanna's detailed and delicate deep-sea illustrations that are the seaside center of attention in this latest under-the-sea adventure.

Pair this one for preschoolers with Anna Dewdney's delightful take on taking on bullies and bullying in her Llama Llama and the Bully Goat. (Read my review here.)

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