3 out of 4 stars
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The Adventures of Finley and Cisco by Lisa Ozalis-Graham is a children’s picture book about standing up to bullying. Finley is a young fish who moved from Lake Erie to Lake Superior. The other fish in Lake Superior make fun of him because he has needed a safety pin to hold his dorsal fin to his body ever since a hook got stuck in his fin. His friend, Camie, is a fish who migrated to Lake Superior from the ocean and can change color to match her surroundings. Both Camie and Finley have trouble fitting in, but Cisco, a friend and Lake Superior native befriends them both. When other fish at Lake Superior School are picking on Finley, Cisco must step in and teach them the right way to treat other fish (and people too).
I really appreciated the professional feel of this book. The illustrations are wonderful and cover whole pages with colorful pictures of Finley and his friends. I also noticed that the book seems to be constructed better than others I’ve reviewed, and I only found one error in the whole story, making me think that the author hired a professional editor. Beyond this, the author clearly put thought into the story, including fun acronyms for kids that will surely help them remember the lessons that Finley and Cisco are teaching about standing up for friends when they are bullied.
My only real complaint about this book is that the conflict is resolved very quickly. Cisco stands up to the bullies, and they basically back off immediately and feel bad about what they’ve done. There’s even an odd section with the bullies asking Cisco if he would ever help them if they were in need. Since this book is trying to teach life lessons, I don’t think it’s helpful to make the bullies unrealistic, and I don’t think that most school bullies would just immediately admit they were wrong and apologize for being mean.
Overall, I would rate this book 3 out of 4 stars. I loved the illustrations and writing, but the resolution of the conflict feels hasty, and I think that detracts from the message the author is trying to get across.
I would recommend this book to parents of kids ages four to seven. I think it would be especially useful for teachers and parents of kids who are being bullied in school. Hopefully, even kids who are doing the bullying will recognize themselves in this book and realize that they need to change.
The Adventures of Finley and Cisco
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