Reviews of children's and young adult books old and new

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

From Pouts to Puckers

The Pout Pout Fish by Deborah Diesen, illustrated by Dan Hanna

Told in rhyme this book tells the story of a very sad fish, the pout pout fish. All of his friends wish that he would not be so gloomy but the pout pout fish is convinced that he is destined to be sad and grumpy because his mouth forms a pout. One day a new fish swims right up to the pout pout fish and kisses him. The pout pout fish is stunned but after a moment he realizes that he is not a pout pout fish but a kiss kiss fish. From then on he spreads happiness wherever he goes.

I am torn about what to think about this book. I like the rhyming pattern that the book follows and the portions that are repeated. Both of those things are great for children who are learning to read. I also like the illustrations. The pout pout fish is so funny and so reminiscent of a child who is just convinced that he or she is having a bad day. What I do not like is that at the end of the story the pout pout fish becomes a kiss kiss fish. I personally think that is funny and great but having been a teacher I think this is going to cause problems.

I was working in a school once where a kindergarten student was possibly going to be disciplined for sexual harassment for kissing another kindergarten student on the cheek. I thought then and still do now, that that was ridiculous. Yes, we should teach kids to not go around just kissing everyone but sexual harassment, seriously, it was just out of control what these parents will do. So my main concern is that if you have a book like this that is very innocent, and kids that are innocent, in a school where nothing can be innocent anymore you are going to have a problem. I would hate to have some little five year-old think that a good way to make his or her friends happy would be to go up to them on the playground and give them a kiss because you don't know how that will be taken in today's world. I think it is sad but that is where we are at.

Other than that though I did like the book. I thought it was cute and age appropriate. The illustrations of the sea life are a bit cartoon like but you can still tell what every animal is supposed to be, and that is always good in a book about animals. I do recommend for children ages 3-5 but be sure to have the talk with your kids about not just kissing people without their permission.


  1. Very interesting point there,Ruth, I have to say that sexual harassment for kissing someone on the cheek is a bit ridiculous yet we really can't condone it either,I understand since we basically don't let our children touch in a Montessori school,handshake,yes,but most of the time,it is,"please keep your hands to yourself",I mean not even a hug which is even more ridiculous, this story sounds extremely similar to "Rainbow Fish" but in a sad way instead. I love reading about the books that you read on your blog. We'll catch up soon.


  2. Sally,
    Thanks for the input. It is sad that kids cannot even hug each other but I do remember the "hands to yourself" rule even when I was in school. We will definitely catch up soon and I am so glad you like the blog, I have a lot of fun with it.