One of my jobs at the bookstore is to help with our Book of the Month Club. I get to read, I mean wrap the books. Okay, yes, I read them, too, especially when it is a picture book. And the other day I found Goldfish on Vacation by Sally Lloyd-Jones. This yellow covered book illustrated by Leo Espinosa had me thinking, “Ho-hum another fish gets to take a walk around the block with its human friends.” Um…. nope. Not exactly…. While the three fish friends in our story, Barracuda, Patch and Fiss are taken out of their New York City apartment to go outside, they only go as far as the fountain outside their window. This is not just a pretend story. No, this actually happened for a number of years in New York City.
An old fountain down the street is no longer in use like it was in Grandpa’s day (before cars and horses drank from the fountain). Now it has ivy and garbage and all sorts of gunk on and in it. One day, the heroes of our story, H, Little O and Baby Em, notice a man cleaning it. Another day they see a sign saying, “Calling all Goldfish Looking for a Summer Home” and H, Little O and Baby Em send their goldfish on vacation. Along with many different goldfish “parents”.
Based on the true story of the Hamilton Fountain in New York City, Lloyd-Jones bases the family on her family (though they never partook of the event) and showed what it might have been liked when a city took their goldfish on a vacation. I like the fact that many different types of people are shown (the grandfather with his grandchildren, single moms, two dads, bi-racial couples and families. In short, Everyday People). And I like that the author addresses the fact that while they think it is Barracuda, patch and Fiss, they really cannot be sure of that. The authors note at the end helps fill in some blanks and explains her inspiration.