The Big Fish by Pamela Allen
Published by Penguin Australia
In this endearing cumulative tale by the legendary Pamela Allen, a family go for a picnic and one by one they are dragged into the sea by a big fish, and one by one they are hauled out by the dog. With enigmatic characters in bright, cheery colours that pop from the page and deceptively simple, rhythmic language, this book will delight young children.
So much about this book invites interaction - repetition of language and story elements, predictive story line, the song refrain, the question at the end. Kids love a cumulative tale in the vein of 'the farmer in the dell' and this one has a very pleasing balance - even down to the detail of the animal characters: the fish tug, tug, tugging the people into the sea and the dog woof, woof, woofing and dragging them out.
The balanced storyline is echoed in the symmetry of design and placement of words and illustrations: the pictures seem to float on the page above the words on the shore, and sink under the words on the sea pages. The illustrations are quintessentially Pamela Allen with lavish use of white space and pen hatching giving a quaint and timeless quality to the story.
With the ending and endpapers subtly playing on the theme of 'the fish that got away' this beautifully balanced, fun story for preschoolers, invites loads of interaction and repeat readings.
CKT Book Reviewer
Author/Illustrator: Pamela Allen
Title: The Big Fish
Publisher: Penguin Australia
Published: Feb 2016