One Smart Fish by Chris Wormell

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One Smart Fish by Chris Wormell

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Category: For Sharing
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Keith Dudhnath
Reviewed by Keith Dudhnath
Summary: A superb picture book about a genius fish who decides to invent feet. The mix of a magical story, gentle humour, appropriate primer on evolution and Chris Wormell's wonderful illustrations make for a fine addition to any young child's bookshelf. Highly recommended.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 32 Date: January 2010
Publisher: Jonathan Cape
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-0224083546

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Many, many, many years ago, the ocean was full of amazing fish. The most amazing fish was a boring-looking silver fish, who was smarter than all the others. He played chess (against himself), drew pictures and performed plays. One day, he decided to see what life was like on land, so he invented feet and went for a walk. Yep, you've guessed it: it's a picture book about evolution.

Whilst the usual suspects choke on their cornflakes, the rest of you should rush out and get One Smart Fish. It's not a preachy book, or even that much of a teachy book. It simply takes the jaw-dropping wonder of evolution and presents it in an appropriate form for a children's story. Fish growing feet is cool - magical, even. It takes the fun of Rudyard Kipling's Just So Stories or Cross Crocodile by Mwenye Hadithi and Adrienne Kennaway, but with the added bonus of being true. (Well, as true as a chess-playing fish can be).

It may not be preachy or teachy, but do take a few moments to look over the page showing the evolution of all the different animal species towards the end. Seeing the progression from species to species is as clear as the famous illustration of human evolution. It helps young children understand their place in the world and will stimulate lots of interest and debate.

Even if you ignore the evolution aspect entirely, One Smart Fish is a superb picture book. Chris Wormell's illustrations of the underwater world are a real joy to pore over, and children will love seeing all the different types of fish - particularly the reveal of the scary fish. Every page is utterly beautiful. The text is excellent too, with its gentle humour and relaxed, slightly chatty style. It's all jolly and friendly, fresh and exciting. It's a fine addition to any young child's bookshelf and will be read time and time again. Highly recommended.

My thanks to the publishers for sending it to Bookbag.

For more undersea excitement, you'll love The Shark In The Dark by Peter Bently and Ben Cort and SNAP! by Margaret Mayo and Alex Ayliffe. If you like the idea of unexpected genius, check out The Clever Stick by John Lechner. Older readers will enjoy Who Am I?: The Family Tree Explorer by Anthony Adolph which is primarily about genealogy but touches on issues of evolution. You might also enjoy Sardines of Love by Zurine Aguirre.

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Buy One Smart Fish by Chris Wormell at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy One Smart Fish by Chris Wormell at Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
Buy One Smart Fish by Chris Wormell at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy One Smart Fish by Chris Wormell at


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