Visual humor sweetens an artful tale about a fish who suddenly sees everything a new way — thanks to a charismatic companion.
Paul is a fish who used to go around in circles. He made big circles and little circles. He circled from left to right and from right to left. He circled from top to bottom and from bottom to top. What else was there to do? Until one day Bernadette drops in and shows Paul that there is a whole world out there, right outside his bowl, with so many things to see. A banana-shaped boat! A blue elephant with a spoutlike trunk (be quiet when she’s feeding her babies)! A lovely lunetta butterfly, with tortoise-shell rims! Simple saturated paintings play off this charming ode to an active imagination — and the way that life changes when a bewitching creature opens your eyes.
Amused children will protest as Paul falls under Bernadette’s spell... Lamb’s delectable painting technique recalls that of confection-master Wayne Thiebaud; her backdrops resemble buttercream frosting in turquoise, sky blue, and lichen green, and she limns the fishes’ domain with impasto brushstrokes of white, yellow, and marine blue. Her sly approach to the way that love and friendship can alter one’s very view of life welcomes repeat visits.
—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
The whimsical story is accompanied by striking oil paintings. The two fish are portrayed in fluid orange and gold brushstrokes, while the bowl is a luminous sphere reflecting different colors from page to page. One of the final spreads depicts a homey breakfast table holding all of the everyday objects bestowed with magical qualities through the eyes of the fanciful goldfish.
—School Library Journal (starred review)
In an exquisite sequence, we see the fish, Paul, going around and around in his glass bowl... Everything changes, however, when Bernadette arrives (charmingly, she "drops in"). ... Children ages 3-8 will love that Bernadette thinks a nearby green alarm clock is a cactus and that she mistakes an elegant teapot for a mother elephant. ... This richly painted debut works as a cheery fable for children but also as a tender metaphor for older readers—not in the confusion of teapots but in the way that opening our eyes to beauty can determine whether our days are dull or fresh and full of color.
—The Wall Street Journal