Thursday, April 7, 2016

Learning from Picture Books – FISHERMEN THROUGH & THROUGH

I had no idea what to expect with this one and the story surprised me. I really liked the illustrations. This book is one of the nominees for this year’s Blue Spruce Award from the Ontario Library Association. 

Summary from Indigo:

Peter, Santiago and Ahab are fishermen through and through. The sea is the place where they spend their lives. Still, they have dreams of other places and when the sea is gentle the fishermen talk of those fantasies — of sand dunes and camels, of hot-air balloons high up in the clouds, of fields full of rainbow-coloured tulips.

On one of those dreamy days the fishermen make an extra special catch — a lobster as white as the clouds of Santiago's daydreams. Never before have they seen anything this extraordinary and beautiful! Surely this is a catch that should be shared with all! 

When word of the special lobster makes its way to photographers, marine biologists and reporters they all come to the village to see for themselves and share the story with their followers. Peter, Santiago and Ahab are eventually offered money for the lobster! 

As if such an extraordinary creature was theirs to sell!! The final offer is for more money than any of them could have ever imagined — a sum that would allow them to achieve their life dreams. But the fisherman realize it is impossible to imagine their life without the water and the sound of the seagulls overhead — and they need to return their special catch back to the freedom of its own watery world.

Fishermen Through & Through was written by Colleen Sydor and illustrated by Brooke Kerrigan , and published by Red Deer Press in 2014.

First line: “There once lived three fisherman: Peter, Santiago, and Ahab.”

My thoughts as a writer:

There is some really fun language in this book, such as “salty as the  bottom of a pretzel” and “until the sun got snoozy.”  The style reminds me of a legend or tall tale, and suited the story so well. It’s interesting that this story is told with three adult characters, too, a little different than the many books I’ve come across told from a child’s perspective.

I love the underlying importance of nature in the character’s lives and the feeling of contentment that comes from the illustrations and life near the sea. The illustrations are soft and have lots of small textural details.

My Thoughts as a Teacher:

I liked the way this book made me think about living things and whether they belong in tanks or in the ocean, and how, sometimes, it’s hard to know at the time what is the right thing. This could be a good topic for discussion.

Ages: 4 – 8

Grades: K - 3

Themes:, compassion, fishing, fishermen, oceans


What do you think the lobster did after it was put back in the sea? Draw a picture to show your idea.

Do white lobsters exist? Do some research about lobsters.

Find three interesting ways the author used language or description in the story. Talk about why they are interesting and how they fit (or don’t fit) with the story.


  1. Oooh. Thanks for the introduction. I am putting this on my list. Unfortunately, I just searched the catalogs and this title isn't available from my local libraries. I'll be on the lookout though. Thanks again.

  2. This looks like a treasure. I love that they honor the natural world and return the white lobster back to the ocean. It is an important message for children. Lovely choice today.

  3. Interesting... I'll be looking for this one!

  4. Sounds thought provoking! Thanks for sharing this book.

  5. Sounds like a lovely book, and a good mentor text for lyrical language. On my list.

  6. Love the language you share with us and the underlying message here. An unusual tale and one I want to read now.

  7. This looks wonderful. I remember enjoying places like Sea World as a child and the older I got the more I realized how sad it was to keep those beautiful animals in tanks. Like you said, it is hard to know at the time what is the right thing.

  8. How fun that these fishermen dream of other places... Being on land, I often dream of what it would be like to sail across an ocean. I'll be checking this book out soon!


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