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Fish Is Fish Hardcover – October 12, 1970


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Hardcover, October 12, 1970
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 3 - 7 years
  • Grade Level: Preschool - 2
  • Hardcover: 40 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers; 1st edition (October 12, 1970)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0394804406
  • ISBN-13: 978-0394804408
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 0.3 x 11.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #550,248 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

“With his accustomed subtle interplay of graphic wit, clear language, and plain thinking, Lionni wisely proves that a minnow’s grasp should not exceed his oxygen supply.” —The New York Times

"A superior book, simple, but eye-catching." —School Library Journal.

“If the picture book is a new visual art form in our time, Leo Lionni is certain to be judged a master of the genre.” —The New York Times

From the Inside Flap

Illus. in full color. A modern fable of a minnow who wants to follow his tadpole friend--who becomes a frog--onto land.


From the Trade Paperback edition.

More About the Author

author spotlight
"From time to time, from the endless flow of our mental imagery, there emerges unexpectedly something that, vague though it may be, seems to carry the promise of a form, a meaning, and, more important, an irresistible poetic charge."--Leo Lionni

Leo Lionni wrote and illustrated more than 40 highly acclaimed children's books. He received the 1984 American Institute of Graphic Arts Gold Medal and was a four-time Caldecott Honor Winner--for Inch by Inch, Frederick, Swimmy, and Alexander and the Wind-Up Mouse. Leo Lionni died in October of 1999 at his home in Tuscany, Italy, at the age of 89.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

"Of all the questions I have been asked as an author of children's books, the most frequent one, without doubt, has been 'How do you get your ideas?' Most people seem to think that getting an idea is both mysterious and simple. Mysterious, because inspiration must come from a particular state of grace with which only the most gifted souls are blessed. Simple, because ideas are expected to drop into one's mind in words and pictures, ready to be transcribed and copied in the form of a book, complete with endpapers and cover. The word get expresses these expectations well. Yet nothing could be further from the truth.

"It is true that, from time to time, from the endless flow of our mental imagery, there emerges unexpectedly something that, vague though it may be, seems to carry the promise of a form, a meaning, and, more important, an irresistible poetic charge. The sense of instant recognition with which we pull this image into the full light of our consciousness is the initial impulse of all creative acts. But, though it is important, it produces no more than the germ of an idea. Each book, at the birth of its creative history, has such a moment. Some are fortunate enough to have, from the outset, a strongly identified hero, one with an inescapable destiny. Others are blessed with a promising beginning, or perhaps with the vision of an ending (which means working backwards to a surprise opening). Others stem from a clearly articulated conflict situation. Sometimes, I must admit, the motivations of a book may be found in a sudden, unreasonable urge to draw a certain kind of crocodile. And it may even happen that in the dark of our minds there appears, out of nowhere, a constellation of words that has the bright, arrogant solidity of a title. Only last night I was jolted out of a near-slumber by the words the mouse that didn't exist. I am sure that, temporarily tucked away in my memory, they will eventually become the title of a story for which as yet I have no idea.

"To shape and sharpen the logic of a story, to tighten the flow of events, ultimately to define the idea in its totality, is much like a game of chess. In the light of overall strategy, each move is the result of doubts, proposals, and rejections, which inevitably bring to mind the successes or failures of previous experiences.

"Inspirational raptures may happen, but most books are shaped through hard, disciplined work. Creative work, to be sure, because its ingredients come from the sphere of the imaginary. But the manipulation of these ingredients requires much more than mere inclination or talent. It is an intricate process in which the idea slowly takes form, by trial and error, through detours and side roads, which, were it not for the guidance of professional rigor, would lead the author into an inextricable labyrinth of alternatives.

"And so, to the question 'How do you get your ideas?' I am tempted to answer, unromantic though it may sound, 'Hard work.' "


Leo Lionni has gained international renown for his paintings, graphic designs, illustrations, and sculpture, as well as for his books for children. He was born in Holland in 1910 of Dutch parents, and although his education did not include formal art courses (in fact, he has a doctorate in economics from the University of Genoa), he spent much of his free time as a child in Amsterdam's museums, teaching himself to draw.

Lionni's business training gradually receded into the background as his interest in art and design grew. Having settled in Milan soon after his marriage in 1931, he started off by writing about European architecture for a local magazine. It was there that he met the contacts who were to give him a start as a professional graphic designer. When he moved to America in 1939, Lionni was hired by a Philadelphia advertising agency as art director. Later he became design director for the Olivetti Corporation of America, and then art director for Fortune magazine. At the same time, his reputation as an artist flourished as he began to exhibit his paintings and drawings in galleries from New York to Japan.

Lionni launched his career as an author/illustrator of books for children in 1959. Originally developed from a story he had improvised for his grandchildren during a dull train ride, Little Blue and LittleYellow was the first of what is now a long list of children's picture books, including four Caldecott Honor Books.

Customer Reviews

The illustrations are beautiful.
Marilyn Peake
This is a very nice book, and it is easy to see why it has won all the awards that it has.
Kurt A. Johnson
This is a great book if you have small children.
anonymous

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

33 of 36 people found the following review helpful By Catherine Hallberg on May 3, 2005
Format: Paperback
An email friend used the term "self consensus" to describe the process by which we start with a known person- ourselves- and move in small steps away from that to construct our image of another person we know via email. This book is a good illustration of that idea.

The story is about a minnow and a tadpole. They look alike, so they must be alike, right? The frog wakes up to having grown legs and the fish is astounded- this cannot be! They are both fish! Time goes on and the fish grows into a larger fish and the tadpole into a frog. Finally the frog is able to leave the pond, but eventually he returns to tell his old friend about the world. The fish pictures the birds as colorful fish with wings, the cow as a hilarious furry fish with horns and udders and the people as fish in clothing with hair. Of course the fish wants to see these amazing things so he jumps out, only to discover that he really needs to be in his cool, watery element to survive.

The illustrations are fairly simple colored pencil drawings- at least until we get to the creatures outside the pond. My children found the "birds" interesting, but the cow and the humans had them in stitches. They found those critters to be some of the funniest things they can imagine- and my 8 yo was able to understand and articulate that we base our assumptions on what we already know and understand. A pretty good lesson for kids to learn, IMO, as well as a sweet story of friendship between two very different creatures.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Marilyn Peake on August 6, 2003
Format: Paperback
FISH IS FISH is a delightful book. It's fun for children, and a pleasure for adults to read out loud. The illustrations are beautiful. Two young "fish" are friends. One fish stays a fish; the other turns out to be a tadpole. The real fish refuses to believe that his friend is changing. How like real life! After tadpole goes up on land, he actually has more to add to their friendship - great stories about what he has seen on earth! When fish jumps onto land to explore, he almost dies. Tadpole saves him. In the end, both fish and tadpole are happy with their own unique worlds. Fish tells tadpole: "You were right ... Fish is fish." This story is so simply and wonderfully symbolic of how friends can remain friends, even when they change as they grow up.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Max Hodges on September 10, 2004
Format: Paperback
Fish Is Fish (Lionni, 1970) describes a fish who is keenly interested in learning about what happens on land, but the fish cannot explore land because it can only breathe in water. It befriends a tadpole who grows into a frog and eventually goes out onto the land. The frog returns to the pond a few weeks later and reports on what he has seen. The frog describes all kinds of things like birds, cows, and people. The book shows pictures of the fish's representations of each of these descriptions: each is a fish-like form that is slightly adapted to accommodate the frog's descriptions--people are imagined to be fish who walk on their tailfins, birds are fish with wings, cows are fish with udders. This tale illustrates both the creative opportunities and dangers inherent in the fact that people construct new knowledge based on their current knowledge.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 25, 2000
Format: School & Library Binding
The book's message--sometimes what is best for you is right before your eyes. This book teaches basic information about frogs and fish. It has beautiful colors which captivate the children's imagination and interest. Thoughtfully and creatively written, one of my favorite Leo Lionni books. This is a book which captivates the interest of chldren of all ages. My pre-school age children love this book, as does the elementary age children in my classroom.
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14 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Judy on September 4, 2000
Format: Paperback
This fanciful and colorful book is about a fish and tadpole who become friends while living in the same pond. Tadpole soon grows legs and leaves the pond. Fish is lonely without him and tries to follow. Disaster! The gently presented lessons in this book stir me still. The words are simple, but the meaning, real and multi-faceted, is accessible to all ages.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful A Kid's Review on March 20, 2007
Format: Paperback
Fish is Fish by Leo Lionni is a great book for little kids with great imaginations. In this book a tadpole and a fish are friends. There are many things to learn from this book. I believe that this book should be read by little kids.

The pictures in this book are creative. The pictures are made from imagination. But, it might be better if he used the right colors. The book would really stand out to little kids. Little kids and beginners would love this book for its pictures. It has easy words for beginners to practice reading with.

Their friendship will make you happy even if you're really angry since nothing is better than friendship. For instance, frog left for a long time and eventually returned and fish was not mad. When he came back, he told amazing stories. The story wouldn't be complete without their friendship.

After a day with joy and frustration fish learns, "Frogs are frogs," and "Fish are fish." Fish risked his life to see what frog had described to him. Frog proved to be a hero and a friend. Fish learned a valuable lesson. Frog and fish remained friends.

Fish is Fish is something I definitely recommend. Young kids who are mad at a friend should totally read it. With all the happy events it makes it to a book that's great for friends. I liked how the author put the events in the way he did. Beginning readers should really read this book.
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