1001 Fish

Thames & Hudson. Aug. 2022. 32p. Tr $16.95. ISBN 9780500652992.
PreS-Gr 2–This book should be called 1,000,000 Fish and they are sardines, and children who have visited New York City during rush hour or a busy mall on the holidays will understand these poor sardines’ day. From avoiding getting crushed to avoiding being eaten, a sardine has a really tough 24 hours. Rzezak shows species after species that exists along the sardines, and almost all of them are larger, and all of them are hungry, and the only sea dwellers that are not hungry are the tons of plastic waste in the ocean that are taking a toll on all of them. In ocean-blue spreads (readers are underwater for all of this journey) punctuated by primary-colored starfish, an orange clownfish, the bright coral reef, hawksbill sea turtle, remora, and more, the sardines dart, stick together, scavenge, get trapped in a fishing net (they are small, and escape) and then experience the world of bioluminescence. This is an excellent way to introduce a lot of information in very few pages; by getting readers invested in the dangers the sardines face, following along becomes something of a game, and the information is therefore sticky. Rzezak is lighthearted but nudges children to pay attention to the world, to care for it, and yet never really scolds. It’s an adventure of sorts, but don’t let children think about the endgame too closely; most of the sardines will after all come to a bad end.
VERDICT This is a thrilling way to learn a lot about the ocean, its inhabitants, and some of the life-and-death elements that go into each day.

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