Fish Don’t Play Ball

For a book with such an intriguing title, this is something of a disappointment.

Bob is a dog who is wrong-footed when his owner, a small boy called Sam, brings home a new pet: a goldfish, called Fish.  Bob decides that Fish must be bored, as he does virtually nothing, and contrives to help him by giving him some things to play with.  His attempts to give Fish a blanket, take him for a walk , or play ball with him are met with Sam’s disapproval and he is sent to his basket.   In the end Sam feeds Fish some fishfood and Bob concludes ruefully that at least they both like eating.

Although the suggestions that the fish might like to play ball or go for a walk are quite funny, the tame ending falls flat – why would the obvious fact that they both eat make Bob decide that fish are ok?  In addition, the writing is clumsy and basic: “But when Sam saw Bob drop his lead into Fish’s bowl, he got cross”; “It looked a bit… ….well, not much fun, actually”.  Commas are used poorly and inaccurately, there are far too many bits of ellipsis and worst of all the speech punctuation is wrong in a couple of places.

Emma McCann’s illustrations are bright and exciting but the text of the book does not live up to the cheerful promise of the front cover.


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