Reviews for The Only Fish in the Sea

by Philip C. Stead

Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Stead and Cordell take their readers on a big adventure to save a tiny fish. A tall black boy named Sherman has big news to share with a pigtailed white girl named Sadie: bratty white birthday girl Amy Scott has decreed that goldfish are pass. Amy is so emphatic she's thrown her birthday goldfish, still in its baggie, into the sea. Sadie disagrees, and aided by a band of chicly-dressed monkeys, she and Sherman begin an adventure to rescue the abandoned goldfish. The combination of Sadie's steadfast confidence and Sherman's facial reactions drive the story to a celebratory conclusion that brings the entire town (and an ostrich) together. Stead's dialogue-only text is concise and dryly humorous, conveying both Sadie's calm determination and humorous quips. Cordell's artworka vigorously scratchy mixture of ink and watercolorbrings the characters to life. The presentation ranges from expansive details of sea life to quick sketches of action, but the focal point is always Sherman and his quiet fear as the adventure persists. Children will love examining each page to see the escapades of the monkey companions as they travel alongside the duo. The detailed artwork is better suited for lap-sit reads than large storytimes, and this may become a favorite part of the "getting ready for bed" ritual in many homes. Readers who are looking for more moxie in their lives will love this absurd adventure. (Picture book. 4-8) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Book list
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

*Starred Review* The creators of Special Delivery (2015) offer another adventuresome odyssey, undertaken to bring a stranger to a welcoming new home. When snotty Little Amy Scott rejects a birthday goldfish by chucking it into the sea, still in its plastic bag, young Sherman imagining, in Stead's sonorous narrative, that poor fish all alone, floating away, and away, and away, and away joins his briskly can-do friend Sadie in a rowboat rescue. In exuberant, Quentin Blake-style watercolors, Cordell inserts a crew of monkeys in Jack Tar dress, a comical cast of sailors who also help the two gather the necessary nautical gear. After weathering high seas, a giant squid, and other watery hazards, the rescuers bring the finny refugee to a town-fountain haven. When he is hungry, we will feed him, Sadie promises, as smiling residents gather round. And when he is lonely, we will keep him company. (Compassionate to the last, Sherman wonders about Little Amy: She'll spend her birthday alone, Sadie sniffs. And that's all right.) This is comforting fare for children, especially those who themselves have been cast adrift, and sensitive readers in more secure situations may even spare some sympathy for Little Amy.--Peters, John Copyright 2017 Booklist

Publishers Weekly
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Sadie, the inimitable hero of Special Delivery, has returned. Her arrow-straight sense of justice sends her in search of a birthday goldfish that Little Amy Scott has thrown into the sea, plastic bag and all. Sadie's friend Sherman and the hilarious gang of monkeys from Special Delivery sprint to keep up as Sadie borrows a boat, plots a route, and sets off; her supreme confidence delivers them to precisely the right spot in the ocean, and Ellsworth ("Every fish deserves a proper name," Sadie declares) is rescued in the nick of time. The monkeys' mayhem is beautifully choreographed, Sherman is promoted to a full-fledged character, and Sadie's obliviousness to nautical danger provides a keen sense of fun. (A fine Cordell split screen shows Sadie pouring Sherman a civilized cup of tea as a sperm whale threatens to upend the craft from below.) Stead never takes Sadie's campaign for virtue too seriously, yet her shining sense of justice lingers long after the silliness subsides. Ages 3-6. Author's agent: Emily van Beek, Folio Literary Management. Illustrator's agent: Rosemary Stimola, Stimola Literary Studio. (Aug.) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

School Library Journal
(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

PreS-Gr 2-With comic urgency, a boy races on his bicycle to tell his friend Sadie the story of spoiled Little Amy Scott, who declared that her birthday goldfish was BORING and walked across town to unceremoniously throw it off the dock. The boy, Sherman, asks Sadie if she could imagine that poor fish, still in its bag and floating away, bringing the prologue to an end and spurring Sadie into action. She names the fish Ellsworth, plots a course, and gathers fishing gear, weather-appropriate clothes, a bucket of paint, and 21 pink balloons. A half-dozen monkeys join the kids on their journey as crewmen, adding to the zaniness established by the loose pen-and-ink and watercolor illustrations. Readers will admire Sadie's unflappable, no-nonsense response to the dangers at sea, though this is just one of the many gloriously funny details. -VERDICT A contemporary tall tale fueled by the characters' genuine caring and heart. Best read one-on-one to feast on the clever cartoon artwork.-Joanna K. Fabicon, Los Angeles Public Library Copyright 2017. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.