“Whale in a Fishbowl” By Troy Howell and Richard Jones is a picture book that children will love. They will intuitively know that whales don’t belong in fishbowls. They will know that Wednesday, the whale who lives in a huge fishbowl in the middle of the busy city certainly does not belong there.
And Wednesday knows that — deep down. But the fishbowl is the only home she has ever known. When she occasionally catches a glimpse of the sea, her heart leaps, although she doesn’t know why. She just leaps to see that tiny speck of blue.
But when a girl looks at Wednesday with eyes the color of the sea and tells her that she doesn’t belong in the fishbowl, she belonged in the sea, Wednesday is confused. Where does she belong?
Somehow, Wednesday knows that the blue is important. How she reaches the blue is touching and sweet. Children will love the ending. They will love knowing that Wednesday has ended up right where she belong. Deep down, don’t we all know where we belong — and where we don’t? Or maybe where we want to belong?
While this is a simple picture book, the ideas and discussion that might arise from the story would be appropriate for children from three years old to third grade. The illustrations, in muted grays and blues and greens, are lovely. Large swaths of color and a beautiful use of light and dark keep the eye on what’s important.
Also, there is a hidden story created by the illustrator. Troy Howell shares in his blog,
“Richard Jones instinctively added one in his illustrations without knowing my first version read: “People clapped. Dogs barked. Cars beeped.” No cats, no pigeons, no crows — dogs. Richard created a visual subplot in which a homeless dog and the girl find each other, another brilliant decision on his part. Piper is exactly the kind of girl who would give a dog a home — her home. It strengthens the theme of finding where you truly belong. A place where you can sing.”
Please note: This review is based on the final, hardcover book provided by Schwartz & Wade, the publisher, for review purposes.