Fox and Goldfish by Nils Pieters

cover image

Book Island, 2016. ISBN 9780994128218
(Age: 7+) Highly recommended. Picture book for older readers. Themes: Adventure, Friendship, loss, remembrance, pets. As soon as this book is opened, the reader knows that there is a different journey to what would be expected from the cover illustration. The opening words by Nils Pieters, a Belgium author, sets the scene:
Oh Goldfish, my friend
Maybe your time has come,
But I just can't let you go like this . . .

It is obvious that Goldfish is unwell and Fox is distraught for his friend, so he takes him on a quest to see the wonders of the world. They fish off tall rocks and splash in the sea, ride a motor bike through the desert of Utah, view fabulous mountains, trek through a tropical forest, and even catch a rainbow. Fox drags Goldfish behind him on ski trip and together they look at earth from outer space. Then it is time for Fox to let Goldfish to go:
Okay, my friend,
Now you can go.

The joy of discovery that Fox and Goldfish experience is expressed without words through the vivid illustrations painted in bold, bright colours. There are only the six lines of narrative in the book and it is the strange memorable drawings that make such an impact. The theme of friendship shines throughout the book. Fox is such a good to make sure that Goldfish's last days on earth are so memorable. He has also make some wonderful memories for himself to treasure as he sits in front of Goldfish's memorial stone. The theme of impending loss is handled so positively that it will be an inspiration for many not to be overwhelmed by grief but to do wonderful things and make happy memories to last.
This is a moving book that will appeal to all ages.
Pat Pledger