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Poor Doreen: A Fishy Tale by Sally Lloyd-Jones

Poor Doreen: A Fishy Tale is reviewed by MaryAnne Locher

“Ignorance equals bliss in this amusing, cleverly executed tale.” – Kirkus Starred Review

Poor Doreen: A Fishy Tale written by Sally Lloyd-Jones and illustrated by Alexandra Boiger, Schwartz & Wade, 2014.

Anyone who has ever gone fishing or known someone who has, has told, or been told, a fishing tale. An eight inch long fish becomes two feet long, and we’ve all heard of the big fish that got away. In Poor Doreen: A Fishy Tale by Sally Lloyd-Jones and illustrated by Alexandra Boiger, (Schwartz & Wade Books 2014, $17.99, Ages 4-8), Mrs. Doreen Randolph-Potts has a fish tale to tell of her own, only hers is true!

Boiger uses watercolor, gouache, pencil, and colored pencil on unbleached Fabriano watercolor paper to achieve the vibrant watery world Doreen travels through, happily ignorant of the perils lurking around her. Doreen is swimming upstream to visit her second cousin twice removed, who’s just had 157 babies, when she sees a delicious dragonfly which is, unbeknownst to our heroine, a fisherman’s lure. “GOODY!” Doreen cries. “How lucky for me! A lovely snack for my journey!”

A myriad of fish look on sympathetically, as the narrator bemoans Doreen’s bad luck.

It’s not a dragonfly.
Oh, poor Doreen. No.
It’s a HOOK.
And it’s not a treat.
It’s a TRAP.
And the one thing you’re not is lucky.

I adore how ​Lloyd-Jones has written Doreen’s story from the perspective of a child who has never had their innocence taken away by having had a bad experience. Always positive, Doreen exclaims, “BRAVO!” and thanks the Great Blue Heron, who swoops in and takes her from the fisherman, for helping her on her journey upstream. (Of course, he intends to eat her!)

Parents, and fish afficianados, don’t fret. By hook or by crook, Doreen makes her way to her reunion with her second cousin twice removed, and her 157 babies, unharmed. This is a perfect cautionary story. It allows the reader to see the dangers Doreen faces for themselves, but with a sense of lightheartedness that opens the door to deeper conversation.

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Career Humor for the Youngest Readers

I have often expressed my concern for the lack of career education offered in our schools. We teach our children to read and write, but don’t teach them much about choosing a career or getting a job when they graduate. Then along comes How to Get a Job: By Me the Boss ($17.99, Schwartz and Wade, ages 4 -8). This book introduces the youngest readers to the subject of careers and jobs, in a most adorable, original and entertaining way. Cleverly written by Sally Lloyd-Jones and imaginatively illustrated by Sue Heap, you will love reading this book to your children. It combines pertinent information about specific careers and resume writing with some silly tidbits, supported by darling, colorful illustrations.  For example, “If you are Mommy or Daddy first you get some children…You MUST be good at changing diapers and not throw up.”  Then there’s a list of what else you must be good at to be a Mommy or Daddy such as “liking your children more than other people like them.”

Go ahead and get this book and read it to your kids, or even to yourself. I promise you’ll get a good chuckle, and you’ll learn a thing or two, too.

– Reviewed by Debbie Glade

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