Freaky, Funky Fish: Odd Facts about Fascinating Fish by Debra Kempf Shumaker and Claire Powell

Children’s nonfiction books about fish are few and far between. I have a few in my school library, but none that I think kids will pick up and read when they’re browsing. An awesome new book, Freaky, Funky Fish, on other hand, screams ‘PICK ME UP!’ I guarantee that this book will leave kids and adults alike fascinated by fish.

Debra Kempf Shumaker and Claire Powell introduce us to fish of all kinds. Inside this book there are fish that zap, sting and sing, fish that can fly, climb and squirt, and fish that use their special abilities to survive. The simple text throughout the book and the entertaining illustrations makes this a book perfect for preschoolers right through to older children, and everyone will find something that fascinates them. Each fish has a freaky or funky rating (you find this throughout the book and in the ‘Fish Inventory,’ which makes up the endpapers). In the back of the book there is more information about the different types of fish, as well as books and links to videos where you can find out more. This book is a wonderful introduction to a wide variety of fish and the author has included these great suggestions for finding further information.

Freaky, Funky Fish: Odd Facts About Fascinating Fish is one of the most awesome nonfiction books for kids. It is a whole lot of fun to read and it’s packed full of quirky fish facts. The cover is absolutely fin-tastic, with the holographic foil that draws readers towards it like an anglerfish’s glowing lure draws prey. You’re drawn to its shinyness and then you need to know what is inside.

Debra Kempf Schumaker’s text is accessible to a wide range of ages, so it’s great for children to read by themselves or for an adult to read aloud. I love that it is the kind of nonfiction book that less-confident readers can pick up and read, and there are lots of visual cues about the traits of the fish in the illustrations. If a teacher or librarian was reading it to a group, you could just read the story first, then go back to look at the illustrations in more detail. I absolutely love Claire Powell’s illustrations! Claire has given each of the fish a different personality and they have some much character. I have read this book so many times, because I love going back to Claire’s illustrations. So many of her illustrations make me laugh (their expressions are hilarious!) but I think my favourite is the female anglerfish, with the male anglerfish attached to her.

Allen and Unwin should be applauded for the thought that has gone in to the production of this book. The design of the book is stunning, from the holographic foil to the endpapers, and it deserves to be published in hardback. The love that has gone into the writing, illustrating, and design of this book will make it a winner with its target audience.

Freaky, Funky Fish is a must-have book in any school library, and any lover of aquatic creatures should have a copy of their own.

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