If I Were a Fish

Feiwel & Friends. Dec. 2023. 32p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781250351722.
K-Gr 2–A song that went viral on TikTok with a jaunty tune and an infectiously joyful performance makes a successful transition to print with help from Curato’s bright, lively cartoon views of the two singers amid fish, fish-kazoos, and a thoroughly diverse audience of happy listeners. With one discreet change of wording from the original, (a repeated “Damn, they’re cute” becomes “Wow, they’re cute”) the simply written ditty celebrates togetherness despite differences—whether it be weight, or body shape, or, with oblique inclusivity, just being mismatched like socks, “You get to be you/ and I get to be me.” Sharing pages with images of a cell phone and frowning emoticons (and offering a hint about what prompted the song’s composition) the refrain does seem to go off on a tangent with complaining references to internet trolls being “so mean” and “afraid of what they’ve never seen.” The sudden switch is disorienting, but a final view of that phone chucked into a fishbowl leaves no doubt about the proper response to online hate, and even younger readers will feel the glow of positivity in the overall message.
VERDICT Silly on the surface, serious underneath—but to make its point most clearly, it should be sung out to, or with, young audiences.

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