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“Shark acted badly. Being mean is wrong. But I’m just one fish! Am I really that strong?” Mr. Fish. –The Pout-Pout Fish and the Bully Shark
The Pout-Pout Fish and the Bully-Bully Shark
Pout-Pout Fish Adventure
by Deborah Diesen
Mr. Fish and his friends are playing at Tummy Tickle Park. They are having fun until a mean shark shows up and bullies the smaller creatures. The shark continuously shows bad behavior, which causes Mr. Fish to feel unhappy. But what can a small fish like Mr. Fish do?
Right from the start, the theme of The Pout-Pout Fish and the Bully Shark is clear. The story contains a lot of repetition, and includes a refrain: “Shark acted badly. / Being mean in wrong. / But I’m just one fish! / Am I really that strong?” Although some parents might find the message overdone, younger readers will lean the importance of standing up for others. In the end, Mr. Fish finds his voice and speaks up, telling the shark, “We are kind, we are fair. We are all potential friends.” Readers will come away with the message that one person’s voice can make a powerful change. Even though the message is clear, readers may find that in real life, a bully will not necessarily change.
Like the previous books in the series, The Pout-Pout Fish and the Bully Shark uses detailed, colorful pictures throughout the story. The story does an excellent job putting Mr. Fish’s emotions into child friendly terms. When he is bullied, his feelings are “tumble-jumbled.” The rhyming text highlights the central dilemma of the story and one illustration that appears at the end of the book shows the bully shark wearing glasses and reading a book titled How to be respectful.
As a picture book, The Pout-Pout Fish and the Bully Shark makes an excellent read-aloud book because of the short, rhyming sentences. Each page contains 4 sentences of text. The story will encourage young readers to show empathy as well as care about others. Because of the serious theme, parents will want to take an opportunity to discuss bullying.
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