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Tiger is the child of humanitarian aid workers living in a country torn by famine and war. When their government asks them to evacuate the country, the family must make a difficult trek across the mountains to make their way back home.

The day they leave their village, Tiger rescues a fish that is slowly suffocating in a mud puddle. As the family can only take what belongings they can carry on their backs, Tiger's choice to carry the fish seems absurd. But as the mud puddle is quickly drying up, Tiger is worried that the fish will die.

"'All the animals here have died --- and lots of the people,'" says Tiger's father. "'One fish is just one fish after all.'"

However, Tiger's parents, and the Guide who takes them across the border, help Tiger transport the fish. First the fish is carried in a cooking pot, then in a water bottle, and eventually in Tiger's mouth. The people who they meet along the way think what Tiger is doing is strange, but they are also impressed by the compassion the child has for another living creature.

FISH is L.S. Matthews's first book. The focus and simplicity of this tale make it appealing to a broad range of readers. Tiger narrates the book. It is never clear whether Tiger is a boy or a girl. This makes it easier for the reader to identify with Tiger and perhaps also with the adventures that Tiger and the fish encounter.

This book is a simple story about a child and a fish. It is also about trying to make a difference, even if it is just in the life of one being. What Tiger does for the fish is no different from what Tiger's parents do as aid workers. Each makes a difference in the world one life at a time.

Reviewed by Sarah A. Wood on June 8, 2004

by L. S. Matthews

  • Publication Date: June 8, 2004
  • Hardcover: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
  • ISBN-10: 0385731809
  • ISBN-13: 9780385731805