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The Pout-Pout Fish Paperback – January 1, 2008
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1) Criticize others that don't smile often or seem to be in a good mood. Criticize them enough so that they believe that's "just how they are."
2) In order to make someone appear happy, a stranger needs to kiss them. In turn, that someone will think it's alright to go around kissing everyone else without asking.
Why would anyone want to promote these behaviors?
How about asking the person if there's anything that can be done to help them talk about what's making them feel down? How about asking someone before engaging in physical contact? These two options promote respect and healthy behaviors for all involved.
NYT Best Seller or not, I'm returning this book and flagging it for other families as a poor choice. Detailed illustrations can't rescue a terrible story.
The Bully Shark & Christmas Pout Pout Fish books have slightly worse rhymes, but good lessons. I am keeping those.
Brushing off the admonishments of his friends to stop being such a gloomy gus, (Ms. Clam with her winning smile, graceful Mr. Jelly(fish), slender Mrs. Squid, and Mr. Eight, an octopus who just lays it right out there: "Your hulky-bulky sulking is an unattractive trait!", the pout-pout fish has come to believe that spreading the "dreary-wearies" is just who he is, and accepted it as his fate. Then one day a new fish arrives, and rather than dispensing more words, she non-judgementally gives him a simple kiss and swims away. Experiencing how good her gesture made him feel, that simple act awakens the pout-pout fish to the possibility of what he himself might be capable of - "spreading cheery-cheeries all over the place!"
At just 2 1/2, we weren't able to explain it in those exact words to our grandson, but he's past 3 now and children at young ages have minds just like sponges - though they might not realize it, those are the lessons they'll begin soaking in with this charming book. REALLY like this book! Sturdy 6-1/2" x 6-1/2" book with thick pages for child-friendly turning.
There were a lot of other ways to tell a story about a fish with Resting Pout Face without sending a message of paying to move through the world by forcing yourself to smile, or violating strangers' bodily autonomy.