I’m really not sure, at this point, who the intended audience was for The Little Black Fish by Samed Behrangi and illustrated by Farshid Mesghali. It seems a bit too advanced for a large majority of the children who would be interested in the book and the artwork. The story is also pretty lengthy, so I don’t really see it keeping everyone’s attention for extended periods of time. The Little Black Fish begins with a grandmother fish telling her thousands of grandchildren a story, then segues into the tale of a small black fish who strikes out to learn about the world despite the misgivings and urgings for him to stay from all the fish in his pond.
The little fish’s adventure is one that alternates between interesting and weird. While I think the story got off to a good start, a commentary on staying in your comfort zone instead of going out to learn about the world, it definitely grew stranger and less interesting as the book continued. At one point the fish gets himself a sword and cuts the beak of a pelican to help himself and other fish escape which I frankly just found annoyingly strange and unrealistic.
The way the story ended was decent, coming back to the grandmother and her grandchildren, leaving the little black fish’s story unfinished but having inspired one of her grandfish to dream of exploring the world. For the most part, I think the message will be readily obvious to anyone who reads it.
While I found the artwork to be pleasing, I definitely don’t see it as the sort of artwork that will keep most children engaged. It lacks color and at times the characters can seem somewhat creepy, especially those with red eyes. A lot of the images can blend together since the majority of them use incredibly similar colors and don’t really integrate any different ones.
I’m kind of apathetic about this book as a whole. I didn’t love it but I didn’t hate it. The message was nice, at least, but the story itself wasn’t as good as I would’ve hoped. Though I appreciated the desire for an adventure and learning, I didn’t really like the main character and parts of the story were strange. It’s not a terrible book by any means, but probably not something I’d ever pick up again or give to a kid I know.
I received a free copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.