________________ CM . . . . Volume XXI Number 29 . . . . April 3, 2015


Fishermen Through & Through.

Colleen Sydor. Illustrated by Brooke Kerrigan.
Markham, ON: Red Deer Press, 2014.
32 pp., hardcover & PDF, $18.95 (hc.).
ISBN 978-0-88995-517-2 (hc.), 978-1-55244-350-7 (PDF).

Grades 2-5 / Ages 7-10.

Review by Kelsey Sukich.

*** /4


It was on one of these dreamy days that, as they drew in their nets, they saw something as unlikely as a rolling ocean of tulips beneath their rudder. They wondered at first if the sun was playing tricks. But as sure as there are sunfish in the ocean, they saw, nestled among the dark blue crabs and glinting scales of silver fish, a lobster as white as the clouds in Santiago’s daydreams.



Three fishermen who “sometimes dream of things other than fish, knotted nets, and saltwater.” have the opportunity to realize their dreams when offered a large sum of money for an albino lobster that came up in their fishing nets.

     Colleen Sydor and Brooke Kerrigan take the reader on a whimsical journey that begins with unveiling the fishermen’s dreams and continues with following the events that take place after the fisherman catch an albino lobster. Fishermen Through & Through was inspired by a true story of Bill Coppersmith (junior and senior) who returned an albino lobster to his home after removing him from the ocean. It is a story of dreams, selflessness, and compassion.

     Sydor was born and raised in Winnipeg, MB. In addition to being an award winning writer, she is also a painter and floral designer. Her path to becoming a published author, which began when her three children were young, has been marked by perseverance and passion,. Some of Sydor’s published work includes the following picture books: Smarty Pants, Raising a Little Stink, and Timmerman Was Here. Sydor is also the author of a novel, The McGillicuddy Book of Personal Records.

     Sydor’s writing style is captivating and descriptive. Her similes provide vivid images in the reader’s mind; for example, Sydor describes the fishermen “as weathered as a twisted stick of driftwood.” Popeye (the Sailor Man cartoon character) fans and those familiar with old sailing jargon will recognize the “Blow me down!” idiom that is used several times throughout the book.

     Kerrigan’s creative use of pencil drawings and watercolours provides depth and a sense of realism to each illustration. Vast cloud filled skies, the fishermen’s shadows from the moonlight, and a field of tulips and an ocean that appears to go on for miles help bring the illustrations to life. Fine details are found in the patterned garments, blankets, and window coverings.

     In the three fishermen’s dreams of “things other than fish, knotted nets, and saltwater,” their fishing identity remains evident in Kerrigan’s illustrations. From Peter’s anchor tattoo on his right arm to the anchor tied to the hot air balloon that Santiago is riding in, to the fish poking out of Ahab’s pocket, the reader is reminded that, even in the men’s dreams, they were fishermen through and through.


Kelsey Sukich is a teacher in the Seven Oaks School Division in Winnipeg, MB. She is an avid ice fisherwoman who also enjoys open water fishing.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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