Fish is Fish
Written and Illustrated by Leo Lionni
Fish is Fish is about two young tadpole friends. One tadpole turns into a frog overtime, while the other grows into a large fish. One day, the tadpole who turned into a frog leaves the pond. Fish is very sad, but one day the Frog returns and tells tales of cows, flying birds and walking people. Fish becomes jealous of these foreign concepts, and hops out of the water onto the land. Near death, Frog saves Fish; Fish realizes that his world is in the water, and the two continue their friendship.
As I referenced earlier, Leo Lionni always has beautiful illustrations. One thing that I loved about this book in particular, was that several times the pictures explained something that the text did not. For example, the text says "He told the fish about the birds, who had wings, and two legs, and many many colors". And the picture shows what Fish imagines- rainbow colored fish with funny wings and frog-like legs. Lionni illustrates similarly when Frog tells of people and cows; the text explains what people and cows look like, while the illustrations give Fish's perspective. This helps kids to relate to Fish, and is humorous for the readers to look at and imagine.
The first way I thought about using this book in the classroom, is in science class. Talking about the life cycle of tadpoles to frogs, how amphibians can live in water AND on land, why fish need to stay in the water, among many other topics. This story would be a great opener to this new science unit, and it would be relatively easy to find some tadpoles and set up an actual tank in the classroom for the students to observe.
Another interesting aspect of the book, is that Frog and Fish are best friends, yet they are different species. The teacher could ask the students, do you have any friends that are different than you? How are you different and how are you alike (compare/contrast with a venn diagram, draw pictures etc...)? The teacher could ask the students to write about what they think it would be like to live as a fish from the human perspective, similarly to how Fish tried to live on land in the story. There are lots of creative writing topics that can arise from this book, as well as the great science curriculum connection.