Summary and book reviews of Fish by L.S. Matthews

Fish
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  • First Published:
    Jun 2004, 192 pages
    Paperback:
    Jun 2003, 192 pages

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Book Summary

When the political situation becomes too grave, a family of foreign aid workers makes a perilous journey to the border of the war-torn nation that they've called home.  Fish is a story that will teach those who doubt that, when hope is almost extinguished, miracles can happen. 10 years +.



My story starts the day that my parents told me we must leave our adopted home forever. Because of the soldiers and the drought we barely had enough to eat and we could no longer stay to help the people in our village.

Right before we were leaving I saw a fish in a small brown puddle and I knew I had to take it with me. The journey would be hard to get across the mountains—to the safety of the border and the people there who could help
us. Yet when I put the fish in the pot I never realized what we would have to face. It never occurred to me to leave Fish behind.

A subtle and sophisticated exploration of life, the strength of humanity, and survival in an unforgiving world, Fish is a story that will teach those who doubt that, when hope is almost extinguished, miracles can happen.

Chapter One

This story starts with the day I found the fish.

I was standing about with nothing to do, by the huge puddle I called a pond. Dad said it wasn't a proper pond, because the floody rain had left it there by accident, and it would disappear again soon.

I said, "What is it then? Because it's too big to be a puddle."

Dad had to agree I was right. He is quite tall, and it was as wide each way as three Dads if you laid them out head to toe, in a line.

At least, it had been that big. It had been shrinking every day since the rain had stopped, and now I realized that it had become the puddle that Dad had always said it was.

Anyway, I was standing about, as I said, with a stick in my hand poking at things, because there was nothing else to do. I couldn't swish the stick in the water because I couldn't get close enough to the edge. The mud was terrible. I had already fallen over in it three times and my clothes were covered in it. I wasn't ...

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
When the political situation becomes too grave, a family of foreign aid workers makes a perilous journey to the border of the war-torn nation that they have called home.

Tiger's parents are aid workers in a foreign country wrecked by war. They decide to leave when the political situation in the country becomes so volatile that they fear for their child's safety. On the day of the family's departure, Tiger rescues a fish from muddy waters and insists that they take it along. The fish is secured in a jar strapped to Tiger's back and becomes a symbol of hope as the family, along with a guide, makes their long trek to the border. Food and water are scarce, and an encounter with "fighting men" threatens the family's ...
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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

This is a gorgeous little book. The story is set in an unidentified country and told by a child of indeterminate age.  It's interesting to note how one lays ones own assumptions over a story.  For example, I assumed that the voice of the child was female and it was only when reading other reviews after I finished (including one in which the writer is convinced that it is a boy telling the story) that I realized that the author never states, or even implies, whether the narrator is a boy or girl; he/she is simply referred to by the nickname ' Tiger'.  I think the setting is probably a country somewhere in South Asia, but the point is we don't know, and we don't need to know, because not knowing leaves us free to put our own interpretation on events. 

'Fish' is targeted at grades 4-8. Many readers in this age group should enjoy this as a simple adventure story but those who are mature enough to understand the underlying message could find that Fish is one of those rare books that they still have room for on their shelf right through to adulthood (the same place that The Snow Goose by Paul Gallico has on mine).  

Media Reviews

Publishers Weekly

In keeping the narrative so carefully attuned to a child's perspective, Matthews allows just enough detail-and heart-to make miracles feel possible. Ages 10-up. 

School Library Journal - Alison Follos

This novel has multiple dimensions that balance hardship with unwavering faith and gives hope within the darkness. Graced by a child's vantage point, it is a story that celebrates the human spirit and inherent kindness. Gr 4-8.

Reader Reviews

Ariane Cadiz

fish
It was a great story! The story starts the day that their family told him they must leave their adopted home. The soldiers and the drought they barely had enough to eat and they could no longer stay to help the people in the village. Before they ...   Read More

Mrs. Diaz

Great Discussions!
I am using this book for the Global Read Aloud and found this book to be great for discussions about gender assumptions and bias (since the gender of Tiger is never revealed it provided) and could be a good topic for an argument essay.

anyomous

Great
I read this book a little while ago and i didn't know what to expect. This book turned out to be in my top 2 favorite books. Its a great thriller and a great adventure about a kid and his fish. This book never made me unamused. I loved the ...   Read More

Nate

A great book
I had to read this book for school, and it was way better than I thought it would be. Vivid imagery of a life in a country experiencing Civil War and the innocent people who get trapped behind the boarders. A great story about hope and survival.

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