The Rainbow Fish
Author and Illustrator: Marcus Pfister
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A thought provoking story about the most beautiful fish in the ocean and how he learns to share. Haughty Rainbow Fish is admired by all the other fish, but when a tiny blue fish asks for a scale he will not share. Shunned by the other fish for his harsh words to the little fish, the Rainbow Fish discovers loneliness. Being beautiful has no benefits if no one will look at you.
He seeks council from the wise female octopus who encourages him to share the scales. The persistent little blue fish returns providing the Rainbow Fish with a chance to resolve the problem and to share a scale if he chooses. To his surprise, he feels delight at seeing the blue fish’s joy as he swims about with a rainbow scale tucked in amongst his own. Soon all the other fish are given a scale until Rainbow Fish has only one left. But he doesn’t mind anymore as he has lots of shiny friends to play with.
Primarily a story about sharing.
You may ask yourself if this is a story about buying friendship as it does contain themes of peer group pressure. A bigger question is ‘Do you have to give away your possessions to become accepted by the group?’ Was the Rainbow Fish bullied into giving his scales away? Is it easier for everyone to be equal?
The Rainbow Fish is different and the other fish admire him and want to be like him. If he had been friendlier from the start would it have been easier for the little fish and community to accept that he didn’t want to share his scales? What would have happened if they had thanked the Rainbow Fish for his kind offer of a scale but declined it saying that they didn’t really need his scales and he could play with them anyway.
These are valid questions and can be used to discuss aspects of this book if required.
The most important message though seems to be about learning to share and realising the joy of giving.
Adults have told me that they remember this book fondly from their own childhood and they too loved the beautiful shiny, holographic foil scales of the Rainbow Fish.
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- First published by North-South,1992
- Publisher: North-South Books
- Publication Date: New edition. 13 Feb 2007
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 3314015445
- ISBN-13: 978-3314015441
- Product Dimensions: 1.6 x 21.2 x 28.2 cm
- Age Range: 3-6 years
A full reading of Marcus Pfister’s book The Rainbow Fish. Read by Ernest Borgnine
Marcus speaks about this book. “Rainbow Fish has no political message. The story only wants to show us the joy of sharing. We all enjoy making presents for holidays or birthdays and the warm feeling it gives us when we do so. I want to show children the positive aspect of sharing: To share does not only mean to give away something (which is quite hard for a child), but above all to make someone else happy and themselves happy by doing it.”
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