#133 – The Fish Who Swam Too Far by Danielle Kirrane

 4 stars

Everything frightened Harry.  A true scaredy-cat he was . . .Until one day an unexpected journey led Harry deep into 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 is so afraid that he is frightened by

...... the sound of an air bubble, even his own.

He never leaves home and has no friends.  Harry feels alone, even with four brothers and sisters. His siblings like to taunt and tease, trying to get Harry to leave home and explore the ocean.  This makes Harry cry.  He tells them all off, saying he is tired of getting picked on and teased,

...…because you don’t understand that I am different! 

Harry’s anger motivates him to swim out into the ocean, not paying mind to where he is going.  Harry swims right into a fishing hole filled with shiny metal hooks.  He turns to leave but stops, when he hears cries of help from a young girl clownfish, whose fin tail is hooked.  Harry swims to her, removes the hook, and then swims home, dodging hooks along the way.  When he gets home, Harry tells 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 beginning is an introduction to Harry and his taunting siblings.  The middle or actual story has Harry finally leaving home, swimming too far, hearing cries of help, and bravely turning around to rescue the hooked blue clownfish.  The ending 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.  The story is a fast read and Harry is a character you can care about.  The rescued girl did not tell Harry her name, which does not matter, though it would have been a cute little scene and Harry could brag he finally made a friend.

Harry yelled at his siblings that he was different.  This seems an important piece of information about Harry.  It is important enough to Harry that he yells it to his brothers and sisters.

.........................“That’s it!”  Harry said. 
.................“I am tired of you all picking on me 
.......because you don’t understand that I am different!  ........Well, I won’t take it anymore!”  Harry shouted . . . 

Harry is different than at least his siblings, if not all fish, so how could this be forgotten?.  It causes him to run away.  This difference is the reason we cheer him on, but we are not privy to the most important part of Harry.  This is a major piece of information missing.

I like the story but think maybe Harry should have been a seahorse, a crab, or even a cat if the story did not need to be set in the ocean.  While there are major differences between Harry and Nemo, the first thought I had when seeing the cover was Nemo.  Kids are probably going to do the same thing.  Perhaps Harry’s name could have been part of the title, or he could have switched colors with a sibling.

The illustrations are good.  They remind me of cartoon characters, so kids should like them as well.  Harry is a character you can side with when his siblings gang up on him and start their teasing, something that it seems they have done many times before.  I want to know why we are rooting for Harry and what is different about him that maybe the reader could identify with.

It is nice he could  brag about his adventure to his siblings, maybe finally shutting them up, but the story ends right there.  Maybe this changed nothing and they keep teasing him.  Maybe, after Harry came down from the adrenaline rush he was on, he realized the dangers he put himself into and refuses to leave home ever again. The story ended a little too soon.  The point is, there is no payoff for the reader.  Why did we root for this little guy?  Did the character change by the end of the story?

The Fish Who Swam Too Far is nice story that ends too soon.  Kids will like the vibrant illustrations, that will feel familiar.  Being a short story, this is a good choice for a bedtime read, especially if your child likes fish.  Maybe there will be a sequel and Harry will finally reveal what he meant when he yelled

………………you don’t understand that I am different!

This is author Danielle Kirrane’s first children’s book.  I think she did rather well.  She understands that the main character needs to change by stories end and made sure Harry solved his own dilema, rather than having a bigger fish swim by and stop to rescue the hooked clownfish.  Harry gets to be the hero.  With a larger story and more room to flesh out the characters, I think Ms. Kirrane will have a fine writing career.

The Fish Who Swam Too Far

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




3 thoughts on “#133 – The Fish Who Swam Too Far by Danielle Kirrane

  1. thiskidreviewsbooks WROTE:
    This book does sound similar to Nemo. I want to hear what happens to Harry though. I’ll check it out!
    Erik 🙂
    Jen WROTE:
    Stopping by from the A to Z Challenge. I look forward to reading more of your posts!

    Kid Lit Reviews REPLIED:
    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!

    jocelynrish WROTE:
    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,

    Kid Lit Reviews REPLIED:
    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.
    Carol Oxman WROTE:
    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.

    Kid Lit Reviews REPLIED:
    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.


  2. It sounds like a cute book. My first thought and also my husband’s was that the fish on the cover looked like Nemo. I agree that making the fish a different color may have removed that confusion. Thank you for sharing your review of the book.


    • I think anyone who uses an orange clownfish, in a book, a movie, or whatever, is going to have the “looks like Nemo” problem. Personally, I would have used a shark. Who ever heard of a scardey-cat shark?!


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