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 a fish named Finley who moves from Lake Erie to a new school in Lake Superior. Finley is different from other fish because of an accident he had with a fishing hook when he was little. At first, many of Finley’s new classmates don’t want to talk to Finley because he is different, but Cisco doesn’t feel the same way and quickly befriends Finley. The two meet additional fish at the school and learn about how sometimes feelings can be hurt even if that wasn’t the intention. This book is relatively short at only twelve pages long and includes full page illustrations opposite the text on each page.
It can be difficult to stand out in the children’s picture book genre because there are only so many themes to write about for a young audience; however, it is still possible to create a distinct writing style. Unfortunately, at times, this book feels contrived; it even begins with the cliché words, ‘once upon a time.’ Though this book starts out relatively unimagined, it picks up steam as the story progresses and begins to take a more unique path. The author even includes some factual information about the Great Lakes, which boosted my overall opinion of the book.
Moreover, the illustrations in The Adventures of Finley and Cisco are interesting to look at, and the colors are bright and appealing, yet they stay true to the underwater setting of the book. I enjoyed that the illustrations capture some of the emotions of the characters with detailed facial expressions that make the story easily decipherable. For example, it will be relatively effortless for children to understand that Camie, another fish, feels sad when she is made fun of, based on the expression on her face.
The message in the story is simple and will be relatable for the intended audience. Themes of friendship, bullying, accepting differences, moving to a new school, and learning to talk about your feelings are all touched upon in this children’s book. Although these topics are nothing new for the children’s genre, the author adds a unique spin to her story by adding some cute acronyms to hone in on points of empathy and friendship. Overall, the main message comes across clearly in the book and is enhanced by the illustrations.
The illustrations, story and message of this picture book are all well executed and enjoyable to read; however, I had some minor issues with the writing. There were aspects of the writing that didn’t feel unique or imaginative, and I found some instances of run-on sentences. The writing leads me to take away one star, giving The Adventures of Finley and Cisco a final rating of 3 out of 4 stars. I recommend this book to be read aloud to children aged three to seven, and children towards the older end of that range will likely be able to read the story by themselves.
The Adventures of Finley and Cisco
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