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The Magic Fish Paperback – January 1, 1992

4.8 out of 5 stars 39 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover

An easy-to-read folktale for children 5-8 about a fish.
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 4 - 8 years
  • Grade Level: Preschool - 3
  • Lexile Measure: 320L (What's this?)
  • Series: An Easy-to-Read Folktale
  • Paperback: 32 pages
  • Publisher: Scholastic; Reissue edition (January 1, 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0590411004
  • ISBN-13: 978-0590411004
  • Product Dimensions: 0.2 x 8 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (39 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #123,836 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This folk tale is unlike most of the storybooks that you'll find marketed towards children. It is much closer to the original grim fairy tales in that it has something of a sense of menace and danger about it, and also lacks the now-requisite happy ending.

It tells the story of a fisherman who earns the favor of a magic fish through his own good-heartedness. He has no thought of reward, but his wife convinces him to ask the fish to upgrade their hut to a house, which the fish seems happy to do. But then the wife continues to convince the fisherman to go ask the fish for upgrades, until she is Queen of the land and wants to be Queen of the Sun and the Stars.

Every time the fisherman goes to ask the fish for something else, the sea is stormier, although the fish says nothing. In the end, the fish decides that the wife has asked for too much, and takes away everything.

There is so much going on in this story that a child can enjoy it for years. The characters and their relationship to each other provide for an instructive discussion about why we do favors, and why we should be reasonable in our requests. It also tells us a lot about what it takes to be happy.

The repetitive nature of the plot should also be comforting to children.

I really recommend the 1967 edition, which was masterfully illustrated by Ed Arno. The pictures are done in blue and black, with a funky thick-line-drawing style which perfectly captures the mood of each page.
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Format: Paperback
The Magic Fish is a classic fable of greed that all people (not just children!) should read and familiarize themselves with. An old fisherman and his crabby, demanding wife live by the sea. She demands that he go catch some fish, and the fisherman snags a bug-eyed, yellow talking magic fish. The Fish is really a prince, and the fisherman frees him. His wife, angry that he returned empty handed, demands that he go back and demand a pretty house from the fish. Her wish is granted.
One can see where this leads to: the wife continually demands more and more wonderful things for herself (is this where the term "fishwife" came from??) until the magic fish becomes angry and takes EVERYTHING back. The fisherman, who meanwhile didn't WANT to keep going back to the magic fish, was perfectly happy with what he already had.
"The Magic Fish" is a fable that we simply don't hear enough of these days, and I think it would be good if we heard it more often. Our culture is one where we are constantly encouraged to buy, buy, BUY and our spiritual wealth is often judged by our material wealth: more stuff = happiness. The tale of the magic fish, with it's stout, heavy illustrations by Pels, reminds us that sometimes what we HAVE is all that we NEED, and greed comes before a fall. Highly recommended for all ages.
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Format: Paperback
This folk tale is unlike most of the storybooks that you'll find marketed towards children. It is much closer to the original grim fairy tales in that it has something of a sense of menace and danger about it, and also lacks the now-requisite happy ending.

It tells the story of a fisherman who earns the favor of a magic fish through his own good-heartedness. He has no thought of reward, but his wife convinces him to ask the fish to upgrade their hut to a house, which the fish seems happy to do. But then the wife continues to convince the fisherman to go ask the fish for upgrades, until she is Queen of the land and wants to be Queen of the Sun and the Stars.

Every time the fisherman goes to ask the fish for something else, the sea is stormier, although the fish says nothing. In the end, the fish decides that the wife has asked for too much, and takes away everything.

There is so much going on in this story that a child can enjoy it for years. The characters and their relationship to each other provide for an instructive discussion about why we do favors, and why we should be reasonable in our requests. It also tells us a lot about what it takes to be happy.

The repetitive nature of the plot should also be comforting to children.

I really recommend the 1967 edition, which was masterfully illustrated by Ed Arno. The pictures are done in blue and black, with a funky thick-line-drawing style which perfectly captures the mood of each page.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
"The Magic Fish" is Freya Littledale's retelling of the classic Grimm's folk tale about a kindly fisherman, his greedy wife, and a magic fish (actually an enchanted prince) capable of granting wishes. Naturally, the wife is the villain in this tale, who is ultimately taught a hard lesson about greed and limits - a lesson that many in our modern era apparently need to learn. Having adapted many folk and fairy tales for her children's books, Littledale uses her experience to retell the tale in simple, straightforward language that is easy for young children to understand. Her retelling of this tale also lends itself to being read aloud, and parents will no doubt enjoy reading it to their children.

I was, however, slightly disappointed with the book's illustrations, which were created by veteran children's book artist Winslow Pinney Pels. Although I do appreciate the medieval woodcut-like style that Pels has chosen for this book, the colors that he uses in its illustrations are so subdued that they sometimes seem a bit washed out. More importantly, the book's namesake - the Magic Fish - is drawn throughout the book with this spooky, dead expression on his face. The Magic Fish looks less like an enchanted prince, and more like today's market special, ready for a garlic-butter sauce and a twist of lemon. Pels is adept enough at drawing facial expressions, as one can see from the weary look on the fisherman's face whenever he has to deal with his wife, or from his wife's increasingly haughty and imperious demeanor as her increasingly outrageous wishes are granted. It seems as if Pels should have been able to make the Magic Fish seem a bit more...magical.

Although "The Magic Fish" isn't perfect, it is still worth reading to the kids as a bedtime story.
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