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The Fisherman and the Turtle Hardcover – March 1, 2008
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From School Library Journal
Kindergarten-Grade 3—In ancient Mexico, a fisherman catches a green sea turtle in his net. The turtle is one of the seven sons of Opochtli, god of the sea, and will grant the fisherman a wish in exchange for his freedom. The fisherman's wife is dissatisfied with her husband's wish for a good catch and sends him back to wish for first wealth and then power. Unhappy with both, she wants to become a god. Paddling out into the black water of an angry sea, the fisherman calls out one final time to the turtle, who asks what the man wants for himself and grants it. He returns to his hut to find his wife a stone statue, like the other Aztec gods. Aviles uses acrylics and liquid watercolor, as well as motifs from Aztec art, in the brightly patterned illustrations. She changes the placid, blue-green sea in the opening pages to a truly frightful place at the end. Kimmel reminds readers that "the great turtle still swims in the sea" and asks what they might wish for. Pair this story with Margaret Read MacDonald's The Old Woman Who Lived in a Vinegar Bottle (August House, 1997) or a version of the Grimm brothers' "The Fisherman and His Wife" for an interesting exploration of the same folktale in different cultures.—Mary Jean Smith, Southside Elementary School, Lebanon, TN
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In an adaptation of “The Fisherman and His Wife,” set during the time of the Aztecs, a green sea turtle is caught by a fisherman and grants wishes in exchange for being released. The fisherman wishes for a day’s catch of four fish; his wife demands that he wish for wealth and a stone house to replace their hut. For a time they are happy—but then the wife decides she wants to become a god. Her greed results in her being turned into a stone statue, just like the other gods in Tenochtitlán. In addition to elements drawn from the familiar brothers Grimm tale, Kimmel incorporates details of “The Crown of Sang Nila Utama,” a story from Singapore with a similar theme. The vivid colors of the acrylic-and-watercolor illustrations and pages bordered with motifs from Aztec art give the tale an authentic flavor. A good choice to introduce children to a culture underrepresented in picture books. Grades K-2. --Randall Enos
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This version of the Brothers Grimm fairy tale is placed in Aztec culture, where a fisherman comes across a sea turtle that announces himself to be "one of the seven sons of Opochtli, god of the sea." The turtle grants the fisherman a wish and he quickly responds that a catch of four fish (a catch he's never had before) is his wish. All is good until he arrives home, where his wife first chastises him and then sends him back to demand a bigger wish.
This pattern continues as the fisherman's wife, unable to control her greed, makes one wish too many.
Author Eric Kimmel's tight narrative and illustrator Martha Aviles' colorful acrylics and watercolors keep the pages turning at a brisk pace. It worked well as a bedtime book for my sons (ages 8 and 6).
In summary, this unique adaptation of a Brothers Grimm fairy tale is not only a good bedtime book but also a useful parenting tool that reinforces good values and morals.
Rating: Five stars.