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Summary: Alexis Byron loves summers at Glacial Lake. Except there are no fish to catch, her grandfather isn't there, and Mom is testing recipes for her new cookbook. Bored on day one, Alexis goes out for a walk. In a pond not far from shore, Alexis discovers and captures a fish! Alexis' excitement is short-lived. No one believes its a fish! Until they find another one! Family friend and scientist Dr. David Holland explains that it could be a prehistoric Walking Fish. Dr. Holland invites Alexis and her friend Darshan to be part of the scientific team trying to discover where the fish came from. Summer is looking up! Until Dr. Mertz gets involved. Kids - even kids interested in science - aren't welcome! This middle grade novel is part adventure, scientific discovery, part mystery, and part friendship story.
Type of Reading: family reading, independent reading, read aloud book
Recommended Age: read together: 9 to 12; read yourself: 10 and Up
Interest Level: 9 to 13
Young Reader Reaction: Review pending.
Adult Reader Reaction: The Walking Fish caught me by surprise. I'm not sure what I was expecting, but this book was a pleasant surprise. The author expertly weaves science into an adventure mystery. The characters are strong and real. No character is all good / all bad, and you can sense their dilemmas. Alexis is an engaging character, and I particularly loved her relationship with her grandfather.
Pros: Science, mystery, and curiosity come together in a great adventure for middle grade readers. Readers walk away having learned something new, as well.
Cons: This is a work of fiction, but Alexis' choice to lie and disobey her parents may not settle well with some parent readers. Her sense of "invincibility" put her in harm's way.
Borrow or Buy: Borrow, at least. This is a "buy" for girls interested in science and/or fishing. For readers who like adventures and mysteries, this is a nice "stretch" read.
Educational Themes: The Walking Fish offers lots of learning! The story itself illustrates the scientific process: discovery, research, hypotheses, testing. Later in the book, Darshan describes Alexis as a "bully." This could open interesting discussions: is she a bully? does that absolve Darshan of his choices and consequences? This could also introduce the concept of ego, both Alexis (wanting to name the fish after herself) as well as Dr. Mertz. Were they more alike or different.
Notes: The publisher donated a copy of this book knowing that we would consider it for review and provide an independent, unbiased profile. This book will be given to a nonprofit to help readers in need.