Papa's Mechanical Fish

by Candace Fleming and Boris Kulikov

"Sometimes Papa tries inventing helpful things, like collapsible coat hangers that... read more

"Sometimes Papa tries inventing helpful things, like collapsible coat hangers that are easy to store. Sometimes he tries inventing unusual things, like edible socks. And sometimes he tries inventing playful things that just-only just-don't work ...." When the young narrator asks her Papa if he's ever wondered what it's like to be a fish, his imagination is off and running once again. Papa's try-try-again attempts to create an underwater, fishlike boat are far more than a flight of fancy, and far from the subject of ridicule in a family that admires this dreamer and doer, although their appreciation is not without pragmatism. ("Uh-oh," says the baby when Papa first gets a faraway look in his eye). He's an optimistic, irrepressible inventor who understands the value of failure as a source of important information and further inspiration. Candace Fleming's engaging, finely crafted story features a nineteenth-century family that is always up for whatever Papa thinks of next. Her author's note discusses eccentric Chicago-area inventor Lodner Phillips, who is the inspiration for this story. Boris Kulikov's illustrations get right into the spirit of things, incorporating black-and-white schematics of Papa's ideas, and extending the humor, but never at Papa's expense. (Ages 5-8)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2014

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