Henny, Penny, Lenny, Denny, and Mike by Cynthia Rylant (review)
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Reviewed by
Rylant, Cynthia Henny, Penny, Lenny, Denny, and Mike; illus. by Mike Austin. Beach Lane/Simon, 2017 [34p]
Trade ed. ISBN 978-1-4814-4523-8 $17.99
E-book ed. ISBN 978-1-4814-4524-5 $10.99
Reviewed from galleys R 3-6 yrs

These five goldfish think “the fish tank is like HEAVEN.” They were best friends at the fish store, and now they’re best friends at their new home. (They ignore the snail that lives with them.) They swim, gulp, and explore new toys—until one day Lenny gets stuck in the new fairy castle. The angelfish can’t save him with her prayers, and the clownfish’s jokes don’t help, either. It’s the shunned snail to the rescue—he pulls Lenny right out of the window he’s gotten stuck in. Glitzy digital art brings the fish tank world to life in full-bleed illustrations that exceed the limits of the fish tank itself on pages bordered with scribbly blue water, while other illustrations zoom out to show a little girl cleaning the tank and doing her homework while her fishy friends swim around and around. The story doesn’t offer much in terms of plot, but the fishes’ cartoonish faces are so expressive and their reactions so exaggerated that kids will be sure to giggle over them—especially when the snail makes his heroic, algae-covered appearance. Though there’s not a whole lot of substance here, the fishes’ treatment of the snail may be a good entry point into conversations about bullying and friendship.

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