The Fish and the Cat
The Fish and the Cat
From award winning Canadian author/illustrator Marianne Dubuc, whose past works include The Lion and the Bird and In Front of My House, comes The Fish and the Cat, a delightfully new wordless tale. Unlike many textless narratives, The Fish and the Cat includes uncluttered, minimalist illustrations which seek to enhance children’s comprehension. This latest publication by Dubuc effectively demonstrates that less can unquestionably be more as her avoidance of excessive visual content allows for an uncomplicated, imagination-provoking, read.
In this creative wordless plot, readers follow the actions of a chase sequence between a domestic cat and a pet fish. Attempting to escape the cat’s pursuit, the fish leaps from his bowl and develops wings which enable it to “fly” from one location to another. In the seemingly relentless chase, the cat follows the fish over rooftops, through a forest, and into outer space where the cat bounces across stars in an attempt to catch the slippery fish. In the closing pages, readers watch the fish successfully leap into the sea, the one location where the cat cannot enter. While the cat is left staring out at the water without his prized catch, the fish finds relief in having finally thwarted the efforts of his furry foe.
Dubuc’s illustrations are beautifully depicted with all visual components displayed in black and white sketches, with the exception of the fish who is drawn in a bold, colourful red. This dramatic dichotomy of black and white and colour is effective and naturally draws the eye to the fish upon each turn of the page. The long nose and wide eyes on the cat allow it to take on a slightly comical tone which complements the imaginative, lighthearted nature of the fish whose fins can magically transform into wings. Dubuc’s illustrations extend over double-page spreads which not only maximizes use of space but also allows for some distance to be maintained throughout the chase scene between the fish and his hungry pursuer.
While the pleasantly uncluttered nature of the illustrations enables the book to be read by younger audiences, it is important to note the overall length of the story. While the drama of the chase sequence will likely maintain the attention of most emergent readers, some children may find the book quite long in comparison to other picture books they have encountered. Due to its length, educators should consider introducing The Fish and the Cat as a shared, whole class, story discussion session rather than as an independent read. Through this approach, educators can productively scaffold learning while children collaborate in inferencing and meaning-making from the visual content.
Christina Quintiliani is an Ontario Certified Teacher and Ph.D. Candidate at the Faculty of Education, Brock University, St. Catharines, Ontario, where she is researching children’s literature.