CM . . .
. Volume XI Number 10 . . . . January 21, 2005
The Day I Swapped My Dad for Two Goldfish.
Gaiman. Illustrated by Dave McKeen.
Toronto, ON: HarperCollins, 1997/2004.
58 pp., cloth, $23.95. (Includes a CD.)
Brothers and sisters - Fiction.
Fathers - Fiction.
5 / Ages 5-10.
by Reesa Cohen.
kid, have you ever said or done anything you regretted or wanted to
take back - or that led to you getting into trouble with your parents?
If you fall into this category, like many children do, then this hilarious
story is for you and many young readers.
When Nathan comes over to visit with two goldfish, named Sawney and
Beaney, the central character of this story attempts to forge a trade,
but, after offering numerous possibilities, there is nothing that
seems to appeal to his friend Nathan, until...
I thought for a
Some people have great ideas maybe once or twice in their life,
and then they discover electricity or fire or outer space or something.
I mean the kind of ideas that change the whole world. Some people
never have them at all. I get them two or three times a week.
"I'll swap you my dad," I said.
said my little sister.
a fair swap," said Nathan. I've got two goldfish, and you've
only got one dad.
his father's size is pointed out, Dad becomes the ultimate bargaining
chip. The deal is completed in humorous fashion with the boy's sister
offering her own perceptive but annoying comments. When mother returns,
she sends her son and daughter to retrieve their father which becomes
a complicated task considering their dad has since been traded many
times over for a variety of items. After all, "He wasn't very
exciting. All he did was read the paper."
The charming, but acerbic sibling relationship
rings true throughout the amusing search for dad and the ending is
creative partnership of Gaiman and Mckean, who have previously produced
graphic novels, really works well here. The text gives the appearance
of hand printing, and much of the dialogue appears in balloons, reflective
of the comic book genre. Though some of the text is bursting though
these balloons and, at times, is difficult to read or follow because
of the wild backgrounds, it is worth the effort because of its fresh
humour and wonderful childhood logic.
lively dialogue fits well with the expressive illustrations. Although
some readers might find these quirky pictures a bit dark, they are
highly original and visually rewarding. The ink sketches on watercolour
backgrounds utilizing a blend of mixed media and photography are full
of odd details and can be a great source of amusement for readers.
From the title page on, these innovative line drawings and colourful
montages will surprise and delight.
new edition, which was first published in 1997 and was Newsweek's
Children's Book of the year, features amazing new cover art, an enhanced
CD with the author reading the story, and an afterword by Gaiman explaining
how this story came to be.
Cohen teaches courses in children’s literature in the Faculty
of Education, the University of Manitoba, in Winnipeg, MB.
on this title or this review, send mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal
use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any
other reproduction is prohibited without permission.
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