TITLE: Papa’s Mechanical Fish
ILLUSTRATOR: Boris Kulikov
PUBLICATION INFO: Farrar Straus Giroux’s Margaret Ferguson Books, 2013
INTENDED AUDIENCE: ages 4 to 8
GENRE: picture book (historical fiction)
OPENING and SYNOPSIS:
“This is my papa.
And this is his backyard workshop, where he spends his days thinking … tinkering … and inventing things.”
From the publisher: “Clink! Clankety-bang! Thump-whirr! That’s the sound of Papa at work. Although he is an inventor, he has never made anything that works perfectly, and that’s because he hasn’t yet found a truly fantastic idea. But when he takes his family fishing on Lake Michigan, his daughter Virena asks, “Have you ever wondered what it’s like to be a fish?”—and Papa is off to his workshop. With a lot of persistence and a little bit of help, Papa—who is based on the real-life inventor Lodner Phillips—creates a submarine that can take his family for a trip to the bottom of Lake Michigan.”
THEMES/TOPICS: history, science, inventions
WHY I LIKE THIS BOOK: I like this book because “it’s almost true,” as Fleming states in her author’s note. Fleming uses her note to tell us what’s known about Lodner Phillips and his various submarines, as well as what remains unknown. The book does rely upon made-up dialog, accompanied by repetitive phrases, and plenty of onomatopoeia for lots of read-aloud fun.
- The Submarine Force Museum has lots of hands-on activities to learn about buoyancy, proportions, and more.
- The Smithsonian’s Invention at Play Web site lets kids play…and become inventors in their own right.
- PBS Kids’ Design Squad has six guided activities dedicated to inventing and building.
- Learn about submarine history from the U.S. Navy.
You’ll find way more cool books at Susanna Leonard Hill’s “Perfect Picture Books.” Every Friday folks review a host of new books. Join us!
16 thoughts on “PPBF: PAPA’S MECHANICAL FISH”
This sounds great, Kirsten! I’d love to read it as an example of how to write a “mostly true” story.
Susanna, I’ve been looking at this one and THE KITE THAT BRIDGED TWO NATIONS for ideas. I have a couple of PB biographies in mind, but am not sure how much information is available. Perhaps I’ll work on one in your class. Is your post up? I don’t see it to link this PB.
I’ve had my eye on this book, but haven’t been able to get my paws on it yet. I really like Mr Kulikov’s art. And it sounds like a fun story. I feel like a fish sometimes! Thanks for sharing. I’ll be checking it out for sure!
The family dynamic in this book is fun too. It’s a great read.
Great opening for the book. What a great story about kids watching a creative parent invent things — even though many of the inventions don’t work. Follow your passion. Like that it is based on an “mostly true” story.
It really shows how you have to try over and over and over and over and over again.
Well, as a resident of Michigan, and having lived ON Lake Michigan when we lived in Wisconsin…I will definitely check this out. Sounds wonderfully fun.
This book sounds like a great idea gone wild. It is so good for kids to see adults try and try at hard things.
My PPBF is about a fish, too, but not the mechanical kind. ha ha
This book makes kids look at their parents and “say c’mon, why aren’t you this much fun!” Love it.
Just the idea of this book is fun!
A cute quirky book. Kids will love this, as they grow through their experimenting and learning phase. Love it, Kirsten.
Interesting! I’ve never heard of this book or inventor. So is he the 1st to invent a submarine?
I love this book – it’s such a fun read, and I like the way it incorporates “real” stuff into the story.
Great review! I think I’d like it! 😀 Love the opening!
This sounds fantastic. I’ll have to try and find it. The cover is very entertaining 🙂
The “it’s almost true” sounds like a story by itself. Thanks for sharing this one.