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Clara and Asha Hardcover – August 25, 2005


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Amazon.com Review

Leave it to Caldecott-winning illustrator Eric Rohmann to exactly capture the touching, transporting beauty of a girl hugging a fish. In fact, Rohmann may have some practice at it, having arranged a repeat performance of sorts with Asha here (the fishy friend in Clara and Asha), so similar is she to her smiling piscine counterpart in 1997's wonderfully dreamy Cinder-Eyed Cats.

To call Asha a "flying" fish would be a misnomer--Asha properly floats, as she does from the beginning of this book when she drifts in through the bedroom window of Clara, a pony-tailed girl who can't bring herself to fall asleep. ("'Clara! Time for bed,' my mom calls. But I'm not sleepy, so I open my window...and wait for Asha.") Rohmann's sweeping, lyrical, painterly style here--much more similar to Cats and Prairie Train than to My Friend Rabbit--provides a perfect backdrop for Clara and Asha's frolics. As with the huge fish in Cinder-Eyed Cats, imaginary-friend Asha seems to be brought to life from a child's longing alone (in this case, coaxed out of the statuary of a park fountain), so she;s more than happy to play tag, take baths, have tea parties, and even help Clara with her Halloween costume (as, naturally, a fisherman).

The last half of this bedtime picture-book follows Clara and Asha across several sleepy, wordless, panoramic spreads, as the duo navigates (and swoops, and somersaults) by starlight across the night sky. This graceful drop in tempo should soothe even the most hyper victim of a tucking-in--which is more than can be said for poor Clara, who receives yet another imaginary-animal visitor just as Asha excuses herself. (Ages 4 to 8) --Paul Hughes

From School Library Journal

PreSchool-Grade 1–With his characteristically spare story line and larger-than-life visuals, Rohmann returns to the concept (and nearly identical form) of an inanimate fish that becomes a living playmate, first introduced in The Cinder-Eyed Cats (Crown, 1997). The tale opens at Clara's bedtime, when an enormous fish glides through her window. The creature is an acquaintance from a sculpture in the park. Ensuing scenes depict Clara and Asha playing ball, stalling during bath time, and coordinating costumes at Halloween. A climactic finale depicts Clara floating on bubbles out of her room and soaring with her protective companion, a situation calling for the artist's signature panoramic perspectives. When an offstage mom suggests that her daughter go to sleep, an alligator shadow on her bedspread hints that the party is not quite over. The oil paintings portray a natural world in all its glorious seasons, brimming with mystery and delight, where time spent with a friend is one of life's greatest joys. Children will revel in the opportunity to see their dreams and longings realized so enchantingly.–Wendy Lukehart, Washington DC Public Library
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 3 - 6 years
  • Hardcover: 40 pages
  • Publisher: Roaring Brook Press; First Edition edition (August 1, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1596430311
  • ISBN-13: 978-1596430310
  • Product Dimensions: 9.7 x 0.4 x 10.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #889,078 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Eric Rohmann was born in Riverside, Illinois in 1957. He grew up in Downers Grove, a suburb of Chicago. As a boy, Eric played Little League baseball, read comic books, collected rocks and minerals, insects, leaves, and animal skulls.

Eric has his BS in Art and an MS in Studio Art from Illinois State University, and an MFA in Printmaking/Fine Bookmaking from Arizona State University. He also studied Anthropology and Biology. Eric taught printmaking, painting, and fine bookmaking at Belvoir Terrace in Massachusettes and introductory drawing, fine bookmaking, and printmaking at St. Olaf College in Minnesota.

Eric has created book jackets for a number of novels, including His Dark Materials, by Philip Pullman. He won a Caldecott Honor Book award for Time Flies, and a Caldecott Medal award for My Friend Rabbit. Eric has written four children's books: My Friend Rabbit, The Cinder-Eyed Cats, Pumpkinhead, and A Kitten's Tale. He recently illustrated Lois Lowry's Bless This Mouse and an old Scottish poem, Last Song. Look for Bone Dog out in the latter part of 2011.

Eric currently resides in a suburb of Chicago.

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By M. Allen Greenbaum HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on July 17, 2006
Format: Hardcover
While it doesn't have that wondrous vintage animation look that highlighted his Caldecott Medal winning "My Friend Rabbit," Eric Rohmann has another winner in always the classic motif of a girl and her fish. That's part of the fun here, we can imagine a girl or boy and his dog, or horse, or even pet rabbit--but a fish? With the exception of "Finding Nemo," "Mr. Limpet," and a few other famous fictional fish (and the former are both movies), the finned set is hardly the stuff of which dreams are made of. Yet, that's exactly what Rohmann does, and his enormous talent as storyteller and illustrator makes this seem almost as familiar and stories featuring animals that are more typical.

Rohmann pulls off this by setting his fish tale within a standard kids' book formula: The youngster who has fantastic dreams about some object encountered while awake, often a toy. Even within this context, Rohmann shows his originality, for the referent is not some household plaything, but the fish that form the base of a fountain seen by the young girl at the park.

The next problem with fish is that some people think they're slimy, ugly creatures akin to other people's image of snakes. So...how do you make a fish look loveable? Rohmann's oil paintings are uncluttered, fresh, and surprisingly light for their medium. The fish's big eyes and friendly face, it's very buoyancy, make it seem like a Macy's Parade float or a giant kite, rather than some dark, ugly-mouthed lunker bottom-feeding in some briny seawater. The fish actually looks huggable, and so when the little girl hugs her imagined fish, it looks real and seems--well, warm and cute.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Anne B. Levy on May 12, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I have trouble catching enough Zzzz's most nights, because it's prime time for my imagination. With the lights out and the house quiet, I'm free to let my overactive mind roam, even as my body begs for deeper rest.

I have an ally in Clara, a restless tyke who can't will herself to sleep, even as an off-stage mother insists it's bedtime in this lush, dreamy story of what happens after the lights go on in a little girl's head.

A fish named Asha comes to life after the two meet "in the park" where Asha's really a fountain statue. True to a child's outsized creativity, the pretend Asha is larger than life and swims through the air, frolicking with Clara in the tub or in the snow and on many other outings.

On this night, they sail across a night sky together in wordless, panoramic spreads painted in sleepy midnight hues. A hush falls over my little one too as the pair soars across the starry pages before Clara settles into bed, only to be kept awake by another potential buddy. I can almost feel his pulse slowing as the story drifts to its close.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By HenderHouse on March 2, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Getting to bed can be awfully hard when there are so many fun things to do! Clara is just settling down to bed when her friend Asha sails in the window. Asha is a giantic blue fish that looks remarkably similar to a statue in a fountain in the park where Clara plays. The fact that Asha's a fish (and imaginary!) and Clara's a little girl doesn't get in the way of their friendship or their fun; together they play in the tub, have a tea party, and go sledding. In fact, everywhere that Clara went, the fish is sure to go. Strong, clear colors and simple lines make for a very realistic depicition of this fantastic friendship. Pair this book with "Dear Mr. Blueberry" for your imaginary finny friends story time. 2006 Notable book
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Format: Hardcover
Clara and Asha is a beautiful book for sure. Rohmann's art is pretty stellar here. Art: 5 out of 5 stars. However, I was not quite as enamored with the story as everyone seems to have been. It is an interesting tale of a girl that joins a somewhat imaginary fish friend on many adventures at bedtime. However, similar stories have been told, albiet a giant fish friend that flies is quite original. Story: 3 out of 5 stories. The ending needs to have a surprise of some sort (either touching, or funny, or scary etc). And this book has at least a moderately funny ending, but certainly not the kind of going out with a bang that we would hope for. My 6 kids also felt like this had beautiful art but ultimately, no one was hoping we would rush out to buy our own copy of the book (ours was from the library).
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Format: Hardcover
My almost three year old daughter loves this book and requests it every night before bed. The reason I think it is special is that the illustrations encourage the reader's verbal participation. For example, at the end of the book when Clara still isn't tired and might get out of bed again with another imaginary friend, my daughter Jane says "No Tata" and tries to put her back under the covers so she will go to sleep. Or, in the middle of the book when Clara is blows a bubble to be carried into the sky, Jane will pretend to blow the bubble. Or, when the bubble pops, my daughter will holler "POP!". I have to say that I enjoy the book just as much as my daughter does and can say that this is a book I do not mind reading again and again.
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