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Fishby L.S. Matthews
Synopses & Reviews
This story starts with the day I found the fish.
I was standing about with nothing to do, by the huge puddle I called a pond. Dad said it wasn't a proper pond, because the floody rain had left it there by accident, and it would disappear again soon.
I said, "What is it then? Because it's too big to be a puddle."
Dad had to agree I was right. He is quite tall, and it was as wide each way as three Dads if you laid them out head to toe, in a line.
At least, it had been that big. It had been shrinking every day since the rain had stopped, and now I realized that it had become the puddle that Dad had always said it was.
Anyway, I was standing about, as I said, with a stick in my hand poking at things, because there was nothing else to do. I couldn't swish the stick in the water because I couldn't get close enough to the edge. The mud was terrible. I had already fallen over in it three times and my clothes were covered in it. I wasn't worried about what my parents would say because they never minded, they were so busy anyway. Now that the rain had stopped, we could dry things again.
So I stood in the last patch of sticky mud before it turned into the liquid patch, and hit at some bits of green poking out of the water's edge.
All of a sudden there was a ripple and a flash, and a big fish leapt out of the brown water, making a rainbow in the spray as it flew in an arc and landed back--splash --in the water again.
I had been feeling very gloomy a moment before. Now I stood and blinked and stared. Nothing moved. I wanted to see the fish again. The glow of the colors had flooded my eyes, like when you open the curtains on a lovely sunny day. I had a warm feeling all through, despite the mud.
I put one foot forward and tested the ground a bit further in. I had old leather sandals on and bare feet, but you wouldn't have known it. The mud had made big, oozy mud clogs around each foot.
I wanted the ground to be safe to walk on, because I so wanted to find that fish. But it wasn't safe--I knew I'd get stuck if I got any closer, and I was quite a way from the house, and maybe no one would hear me call and no one would come looking till teatime. I walked all around the edge, just in case, but it was the same everywhere.
Very slowly, because it is hard to walk in oozy mud clogs, I walked back up the rough earth path to the house.
Dad was there, because it was his turn to look after me and do the tea. He looked tired and dusty. We hadn't got much water for things like washing, in spite of all the rain.
We were a funny family--not like the ones in the books I read, which we'd brought from our own country.
That was one thing that was different about us for a start--we didn't come from the country we were living in now. Mum and Dad had brought me with them when I was little. They had come to this country to help the people, who were having a hard time.
And they were having a hard time, I can tell you.
First, it was boiling hot, but not like the summers in our home country. This hot was dusty hot, with no green growing anywhere. There had been bits of bushes and wispy dry grass in the beginning, I can remember, but after a while even that had gone. I had stroked the goats and the donkey who'd come to nibble at it. Then they stopped coming and I missed them and asked why they didn't visit anymore.
As fighting closes in on the village where Tiger's parents have been working, the three of them and a mysterious guide set out on a difficult journey to safety.
My story starts the day that my parents told me we must leave our adopted home forever. Because of the soldiers and the drought we barely had enough to eat and we could no longer stay to help the people in our village.
Right before we were leaving I saw a fish in a small brown puddle and I knew I had to take it with me. The journey would be hard to get across the mountains—to the safety of the border and the people there who could help us. Yet when I put the fish in the pot I never realized what we would have to face. It never occurred to me to leave Fish behind.
A subtle and sophisticated exploration of life, the strength of humanity, and survival in an unforgiving world, Fish is a story that will teach those who doubt that, when hope is almost extinguished, miracles can happen.
From the Hardcover edition.
About the Author
L. S. Matthews is a first-time author, and the winner of the Fidler Award for her book Fish, an award given for a first novel for children. She lives and writes in England.
From the Hardcover edition.
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