#113 – Fish That Swam Too Far by Danielle Kirrane

A to Z Challenge Day 6: F
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 4 stars

Fish That Swam Too Far.  Everything frightened Harry.  A true scaredy-cat he was . . .Until one day an unexpected journey led Harry deep ingto the ocean where being scared was no longer an option for him.  He had to be brave, very brave.  Risking his own life to save another fish in desperate need of help, his life will change forever in . . . The Fish Who Swan Too Far.

Harry is a young clownfish who was so afraid that the sound of an air bubble, even his own would frighten him. He never left home and had no friends.  Even with four brothers and sisters, Harry was still alone. The siblings liked to taunt and tease, trying to get Harry to leave home and explore the ocean.  This made Harry cry . . . tears of ANGER!  One day Harry had taken enough guff and told his siblings to stop.

He told them you don’t understand that I am different!

Then Harry swam out into the ocean, not paying mind where he was headed. Harry headed right into a fishing hole filled with shiny metal hooks,  He turned to leave but stopped to help a young girl clownfish who had her tail fin caught in a hook.

Harry swam towards her, removed the hook and then swam home, dodging hooks along the way.  When he returned Harry told his brothers and sisters about his big adventure, determined that this one would not be his last.

This is a very nice three-scene story.  The first is an introduction to Harry and his siblings taunting Harry.  The second is when Harry leaves and swims  too far, and finally rescues the blue clownfish.  The third has Harry telling his siblings about his adventures.  The author stayed on tract.  She did the needed scenes and did not let anything distract her.  So, the story is a fast read and Harry is a character you can care about.    The rescued girl was never called by a name.

Harry yelled at his siblings that he was different.  How?  We are never told.  This seems an important piece of information about Harry.  What makes him different?  How is he different?  Why was this so important that Harry yelled it to his brothers and sisters, but it was never revealed?      That is the only loose thread, an uncommon occurrence in picture books.  When  first received the book, I thought of Nemo.   Remember him, the little orange clownfish with the scardey-cat father, who transferred those fears to his son?    When Nemo got mad at dad he took off into the ocean, a place he was to stay out of.  He gets caught and put into an aquarium, finally busts out and meets back up with dad, no longer afraid.

The main character is Harry, an orange clownfish just like Nemo. That is where the similarities stop.  Nemo did not have siblings to taunt him into the ocean, or to listen to his great adventure when he returned.  Harry is alikable charater that could have easily been

This reads like a Nemo story and I think kids will see the same thing.  Why not use cats or dogs, birds or mice, Why fish, a clownfish, an orange clownfish with white stripes?  I think it is a bad move to have your characters look like the characters from a famous movie.  Was this done intentionally, to, maybe, catch the benefits of being mistaken for Nemo, or was this an innocent coincidence (because no one did a search to ensure this wouldn’t happen)?

The Fish That Swam Too Far may sell fine as a small story about a brave little fish.  The little fish is on the cover and his name Harry is not.  It is easy to look at this and think it is a new Nemo tale.  Until you get it home.  The story is good.  You’ll root for the character of Harry.  The illustrations are vibrant, and familiar.  It is entertaining.  But, there is no getting around it . . . this is Nemo.  Is this what Harry meant when he yelled you don’t understand I am different (than you)?

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The Fish Who Swam Too Far

Author:  Danielle Kirrane
Illustrator:  Caleb Irwin
Publisher:  Tate Publishing Children’s Division
Release Date: 2011
ISBN:  978-1-61777-937-4
Number of Pages: 20
Ages:   6+


A to Z Challenge Day 6: F

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7 thoughts on “#113 – Fish That Swam Too Far by Danielle Kirrane

    • Thanks for stopping by. I love all these new eyes. Tomorrow is a book from an award winning author. She has agreed to give me first review AND is donating all four of her books to my library. I love authors like this!

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  1. I enjoyed the book and I know my grandchildren will as well. I was not distracted by Nemo similarities and the bright illustrations enhanced the read. I believe there are multiple messages and themes in this book that can stimulate important discussions with children. I plan to purchase copies for nieces, nephews, grandchildren and hope we can cuddle up with this inviting story and then talk about it.

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    • I’m glad you saw the review for what it is–my opinion. I am also glad you are purchasing this book. The story is a good story. No doubts about that.

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  2. Hmm… that would be very interesting to know whether the author made the character a clown fish to try and ride the coattails of the Nemo craze or if it was an accident. Although with a release date of 2011 it’s hard to believe they didn’t know about Nemo. And there are so many beautiful, vibrant saltwater fish to choose from, it would have easy to pick something else to avoid comparisons. It sounds like it was a pretty cute story though.

    Wishing you continued success with the A to Z challenge,
    Jocelyn

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    • I do not think she deliberately is trying to get help from Nemo. I think she wanted to use a clownfish and didn’t think about the famous clownfish. This is her first children’s book (maybe her first book, that I am not sure), and I really think it was a fluke. I still think it was not a good move, but then who knows? Maybe she will do really well with this book, or learn a bit more about self-publishing and have a better book next time. Her writing is good.

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