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Module 1: Rainbow Fish

                          Rainbow Fish

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Pfister, M. (1992). Rainbow fish. New York: North-South Pole Books Inc.


Rainbow Fish is special and he knows it. He has special shiny scales and refuses to play with the other fish. One day a little blue fish asked to have one of the shiny scales. Rainbow Fish rudely said no and they none of the other fish would even acknowledge him anymore.

Rainbow Fish was very lonely and talked to an octopus about his trouble. The octopus advised him to give away his shiny scales to the other fish and then he would be happy. At first this was difficult. He gave the little blue fish just one and realized how good it made him feel to give it away. Soon he had given away all but one scale. The other fish were jubilant about his generosity and accepted him as a friend and playmate. He was happy.

My Impression

This is a great picture book story about friendship and vanity. Rainbow Fish learns a lesson the hard way about being to proud and selfish. The wise octopus has the role of a parent or trusted advisor. The sparkly scales will catch and hold the attention of even the littlest library visitors.


This board book presents a bare-bones version of the original picture book story: the vain, lonely Rainbow Fish relinquishes his pride and gives away almost all his special, shiny scales to gain friends. About half the original watercolor paintings appear here, reduced in size and cropped to fit the more compact format. Children too young to sit through the original story will enjoy this version, complete with those irresistible, iridescent fish scales. Category: For the Young. 1996, North-South, $9.95. Ages 1-3.

Phelan, C. (1996, March 15).  [Review of the book Rainbow fish, by M. Pfister]. Booklist 92(14). Retrieved from http://www.booklistonline.com/

A beautiful fish swims proudly through the sea. Its shiny scales are the envy of all. When he realizes how lonely he is, he decides to share some of his precious scales. This award-winning book has been simplified and made accessible to the very youngest in a board book format. 1996 (orig. 1992), North-South, $9.95. Ages 3 up.

Courtot, M. (1996).  [Review of the book Rainbow fish, by M. Pfister]. Children’s Literature. Retrieved from http://www.childrenslit.com/

Uses in the Library

Rainbow Fish seems like a book begging to be read aloud to PreK through second grade students. I would like to read this book alone during a storytime and leave plenty of time to discuss sharing and friendship with the children. I would prepare a list of open-ended questions. Then place the children in a circle and give them each an opportunity to answer questions like; what does it means to be proud versus friendly? selfish versus generous? and what makes us happy?


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