Wednesday, May 07, 2008

The Fish Who Cried Wolf

The Fish Who Cried Wolf
by Julia Donaldson
illustrated by Axel Scheffler
Arthur A. Levine, 2008
review copy compliments of the publisher


Awhile back we read a bunch of "cry wolf" variations, so I had high hopes for this book.

This is the story of Tiddler, a plain little fish who tells very colorful tall tales. He's late for school almost every day, but he has a great excuse each time. One day, he's so distracted thinking of his new story that he fails to notice the fish net that scoops him up. The fishermen throw him back because he's just a "tiddler." Tiddler is lost in the ocean, but he follows the trail of his stories to get back home again. Not quite a "cry wolf" story, but thought I'd withhold judgment and see what the kids thought.

They couldn't get over how similar the book is to the movie "Finding Nemo." The characters, the plot line, everything. I don't know the movie, so I asked, "Coincidence-similar, or plagiarism-similar?" Similar enough to feel like plagiarism was the verdict of the 10 year-olds on the jury.

And then someone said, "And there isn't even a wolf in it!" *sigh* We had to have yet another discussion about idioms and figures of speech. After we cleared that up, they went on to express their dissatisfaction that the story bills itself as a "cry wolf" story with the title, but it doesn't really follow the formula. (Whew! It wasn't just me!) Then we started brainstorming better titles. The winners were: Tiddler's Tall Tales, The Tale of Tiddler, and (although it was suggested rather sarcastically I think it does reflect their irritation with the apparent extravagant borrowing from "Finding Nemo") Lying Nemo.

So here's a book with great potential that was a bit disappointing, but still sparked a lively conversation!

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