Thursday, August 13, 2015

Fast Freddy

In Fast Freddy by Lee Ann Mancini, it's back to school time in the ocean and all the young fish are excited to see their friends again. But when Miss Mermaid introduces a new student named Freddy, the little fish aren't very kind. Freddy has the head of a shark and the body of an octopus. He looks weird to the kid-fish, and they let him know it by refusing to hang out with him. Miss Mermaid scolds the children: "Making fun of someone just because he's different isn't nice...I'm half human and half fish. Don't you like me?" 

The fish-kids say they love her, and Freddy mentions he swims fast like a shark and is strong like an octypus. "In my old school I was the fastest swimmer and the strongest wrestler." That gives the fish-kids an idea; maybe Freddy could race on the swim team and win the championships for the school. The fish-kids organize pep rallies and begin cheering Freddy on.

When the day of the races arrives, Freddy wins by a landslide. The kids all cheer for him and Freddy says, "Getting an award will be great, but having friends is ever better! I love my new school and all my new friends!" That night, Freddy thanks Jesus for making him "different and special."

The last page of the book is a reminder for children to say their prayers and "always have Jesus in your heart." It also tells children to look for the hidden ichthys (Christian fish symbols) hidden throughout the book.

What I Like: Dan Sharp's illustrations are wonderful. His characters have strong appeal with fun expressions and bright colors. His imaginings of a world under the sea are engaging and sometimes creative. I also like the hidden ichthys, which turn the book into a puzzle, as well as a story.

What I Dislike: I have a fundamental problem with this book. The fish-kids learn to like a "different" kid because he can do something for them: Win the championship - something their school has never done. It would have been so much better if they had learned to treat him like any other "kid" just because, well, he's just like another other kid.

Overall Rating: Ho-hum.

Age Appeal: About preschool - 1st grade

Publishing Info: GLM Publishing, 2015; ISBN 978-0578140766; paperback, 30 pgs., $6.99

Buy at Amazon for $6.99

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