ABOUT THE BOOK
The grumpiest fish in children’s literature is back with another case of “the dreary wearies.”
This time, Mr. Fish, star of The New York Times bestselling Pout-Pout Fish series, is down in the dumps over holiday shopping. With a message for readers of all ages, The Not Very Merry Pout-Pout Fish finds Mr. Fish so consumed with finding that perfect gift for each of his friends that he forgets the true meaning of the holidays:
“A gift should be big,
And a gift should be bright.
And a gift should be perfect— Guaranteed to bring delight.
And a gift should have meaning,
Plus a bit of bling-zing,
So I’ll shop till I drop
For each just-right thing.” !
When Mr. Fish—with his signature Pout-Pout Fish frown—comes up empty-handed, Miss Shimmer intervenes with a plan to make homemade gifts. He soon learns that it’s not about busting the budget or gifting the season’s hottest item, but giving from the heart. Together they experience the joy that comes from giving and sharing—the merriest gifts of all.
Written by former bookseller and librarian Deborah Diesen with illustrations by veteran children's artist Dan Hanna, The Pout-Pout Fish was a 2008 Time Magazine “Top Ten Children’s Book.” Since then, Mr. Fish has won over the hearts of millions of young readers as he Goes to School, faces the Big-Big Dark, learns to Smile, discovers how to Dream, and plays Hide-and-Seek. Today there are more than 2.5 million Pout-Pout Fish books in print.
I find myself fully able to relate to Mr. Fish in his efforts to find the perfect gifts for his friends. I often have trouble with that myself. But the message here is very true, true gifts gain meaning when given with the heart. The delightful illustrations add plenty of cuteness and cheer for the holiday season. The creative gifts on the shelves in the illustrations make for fun perusing. I like the idea of truly giving of oneself to oneself being the best gift of all. A great holiday read for school or for home.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR/ILLUSTRATOR
Deborah Diesen (www.deborahdiesen.com) grew up in Midland, Michigan, and started writing poems at a young age. She has worked as a bookseller and a librarian, and now works for a small nonprofit organization, but her greatest joy comes from writing for children. She lives with her family in Grand Ledge, Michigan.
Dan Hanna (www.danhanna.com) has over ten years experience in the animation industry, and his work has appeared on BBC America and the Cartoon Network. He lives in Oxnard, California.
QUESTIONS for DAN HANNA
How long have you been illustrating the Pout-Pout Fish books? What inspired your depiction of the main character, Mr. Fish?
I started illustrating the first book in early 2007 and so it's been about 8 or 9 years now. About 15 years ago I was scuba diving in Fiji. There was a huge rusting hulk of a shipwreck about 80 feet down. At the end of a pole extending above the deck was a small metal basket. Resting in that basket was a pudgy fish about the size of my fist. I swam up and looked right into his eyes and he looked right back with a deep, gloomy frown. Years later, when I received the manuscript for The Pout-Pout Fish, that memory bubbled up. I realized, at that moment, that Mr. Fish was an actual fish, living on the other side of the world, 80 feet down on a shipwreck.
When there’s a new Pout-Pout story to illustrate, how do you collaborate with author Deborah Diesen?
It may seem odd but I don't communicate with Debbie regarding the illustrations. I work with are the Editor (Janine O'Malley) and Art Director (Roberta Pressel). When I initially receive a manuscript I'm given complete freedom to break it down into pages and to illustrate it however I think best. After I complete the first dummy (a mock-up of the book) I send it to Janine and Roberta. That begins a long series of feedback and changes until we get to a version that we're all happy with. At that point I begin the final art that will eventually be delivered to make the book.
The items in the shop and the gifts Mr. Fish imagines in this story are so detailed and quirky. How did you come up with them?
Did you have a specific inspiration?For the imagined gifts, I drew on my own experience as a kid where I would dream up magnificent presents for my family and friends. Eventually, as with Mr. Fish, I would have to confront reality and drastically scale back my plans. The shop items are based on all the goofy stuff you can find on the shelves of some of the more interesting gift shops.
What do you think will be the ultimate fate of your work?
Five billion years from now, when our sun has blown up and the Earth is a smoldering chunk of charcoal, humanity will hopefully have escaped to another planet. Perhaps, packed away in one of the zillions of moving boxes will be an old, dusty copy of "The Pout-Pout Fish". Maybe then, some remnant of my wandering soul will smile as a genetically enhanced child stumbles across it and cracks open its ancient spine.
Book Tour Schedule
Author Deborah Diesen
November 14, 3pm - Square Books, Oxford, MS
November 16, 3:30pm - Country Bookshop, Southern Pines, NC
November 18, 4pm - Vero Beach Book Center, Vero Beach, FL
November 19, 7pm - Little Shop of Stories, Decatur, GA
November 20, 4pm - Octavia Books, New Orleans, LA
Illustrator Dan Hanna
November 15, 11am - WORD Books, Jersey City, NJ
November 16, 4pm - Carmichael’s Bookstore, Louisville, KY
November 17, 4:30pm - Towne Book Center & Cafe, Collegeville, PA
November 18, 4:30pm - Cover to Cover, Columbus, OH
November 19, 4:30pm - Lake Forest Books, Lake Forest, IL
November 21, 12pm - Anderson’s Book Shop, Naperville, IL
November 21, 2pm - Anderson’s Book Shop, La Grange, IL
Learn more at www.poutpoutfish.com.