Sunday, January 28, 2018

Splotch by Gianna Marino - OPTIONAL

Marino, Gianna   Splotch  Unpaged. Viking, 2017. $17.99. PICTURE BOOK

Splotch is a boy's pet fish who dies one day while the boy is at school. When he discovers the empty fish bowl after school, he thinks the fish must have run away and makes several signs asking for help looking for his missing fish. After school the next day, Splotch is back! Then a middle-of-the-night realization comes to him. This fish looks different than Splotch. Aliens must have changed him! Will Splotch return? 

The story is told with just a few words on each page, either indicating the time, or sharing one or two lines of dialogue by the boy or his mother. It captures a common experience many have had with a beta fish as a pet, but with some unexpected reactions and interactions tossed in. The gouache and pencil illustrations include several depictions of the boy gazing lovingly into his fish bowl, his face refracted by the water and his eyes extra large and adorable. They also include the family's pet cat who is wiser than his human companions. The story leaves a lot unsaid, which could make for good conversations among its readers, but it plays a deception for humor. A wonderful learning opportunity to talk about death as being part of life is lost and instead, the only thing the boy has learned at the end is how to avoid a real conversation by using a deception of his own. 

EL (K-3) - OPTIONAL. Reviewed by P. K. Foster, teacher-librarian

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