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!