Round Fish, Square Bowl, by Tom Skinner and Mini Goss

Reviewed by Kathryn Duncan

When this book arrived in the mail, I knew I had a favourite with my children. The “Can you read me this, Mummy,” was an early clue, but the fact that both children wanted it as their bedtime story – over and over again – sealed it. The bright orange fish grabs your attention, and the title, to me, summed up what is probably true for everyone to some degree.

This is one of the most delightful new books I have read to my children in some time. It has encouraged discussion about why mules are stubborn and allowed me to retell the story of the tortoise and the hare. Even young children are able to identify with being slow (yes they get labelled at a young age) or being scared. The story ends beautifully with the mice showing that family and friends bring richness to our life. It is a wonderful book to explain to children that it is okay, and sometimes even wonderful, to be different, and that there are two sides to every story.

Mini Goss’s illustrations brighten the pages with their humour and showing what the words don’t say. Visually, there is a lot to talk about and children will be able to identify with the characters, after all, we all know the story of the 3 little pigs. It is a delight to see more of Mini Goss’s illustrations appearing and they become more pleasing with each new publication.

New Frontier should be congratulated for taking a chance with new author Tom Skinner and Round Fish, Square Bowl. It is such a simple story, and delightfully puts into words the whole concept of being different.

Round Fish, Square Bowl, Mini Goss, (illus.) and Tom Skinner (text),
New Frontier Publishing, 2006
Hardcover, ISBN 978 1 92104 296 6