The Rainbow Fish (book)
by Marcus Pfister

Marcus Pfister's The Rainbow Fish book
(translated by J. Alison James)

Children's book review by Steve Barancik

Ages 2-5

A Children's Book about Sharing

Let's say that your child is due to transition into cooperative play and you're looking for a book that'll help make the point. You could hardly do better than The Rainbow Fish book. (As opposed to the tv series.)

I suspect if you have young ones you'll agree that the concept of ownership is pretty much hard-wired. "Mine" is a very important word to a toddler!

Sharing comes a little harder. Parents are needed to help kids learn to share.

Meet "the most beautiful fish in the entire ocean."

He has scales of all different colors, but - even more precious - he's covered with sparkling silver scales as well. This is Rainbow Fish.

(Pfister's gorgeous watercolors draw from an undersea palette, highlighted by Rainbow Fish's reflective, silvery finery.)

R.F. is rather vain about his appearance, and rather possessive of his special scales. When a smaller fish asks if he can have one, Rainbow Fish tells him off.

(Are you starting to picture kids in the sandbox at the playground? You should be!)

When the smaller fish tells the other fish of Rainbow's meanness, everyone shuns Rainbow. Sad rainbow turns to a starfish, and then a wise old octupus, for answers.

The octupus suggests that Rainbow Fish give a shiny scale to each of the other fish.

You will no longer be the most beautiful fish in the sea, but you will discover how to be happy.

Rainbow follows the advice and gets happy. Simple story with a simple message, right? Review continues.

book image with additions

Well, you should know that some people have taken offense to The Rainbow Fish book's message. They see Rainbow Fish as an assault on capitalism, promoting socialist values!

To which I say, "Get a life!" If someone were pushing the book on high school and college students, I could see the point. But you don't see a lot of Rainbow Fish t-shirts on college campuses!

The Rainbow Fish book is meant to teach three year olds that they can't use seven plastic shovels at a time and they can share one with the crying kid sitting next to them.

The Rainbow Fish: communist manifesto or picture book that glitters? You decide!

Looking for help with cooperative play? My downloadable ebook, The Time Balooga Forgot Other People's Feelings, might be just what you're looking for. Learn more!

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