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LETTER FROM A PARENT: Dear Rachelle, My son, the one who is not a reader, has been carrying "The Walking Fish" all around the house. He's been reading it in bed before he goes to sleep. He even excused himself from dinner to get it and sat back down at the table and read while the rest of us finished eating!!! I have never seen him so engrossed in any book before!! Thank you! ~Noelle Riesenman (parent of Matt, a Maple Road School student)
Click here for this Home News article about working with my awesome uncle/co-author, and winning the National Science Teachers Association Award!
click links for full reviews
~ Dianne Joop, Education Director, National Cave and Karst Research Institute
"The author does a great job of weaving together the scientific and the literary and creating an entertaining story for young readers. The determination and perseverance of the main character, Alexis, is noteworthy and an inspiration to readers. The narration is simple, charming and detailed, making the scenes very visual and clear...The story is developed well and the characters are well portrayed so that they leave a lasting impression in the minds of readers. I enjoyed the pace and movement of this engaging story. It is fluid and captures one's attention. It can be used for read aloud sessions in classrooms and school libraries as it takes the imagination of readers to another level."
It is an excellent choice to be used as supplemental curriculum in a science class, ELA class or an interdisciplinary class when combined with the free high quality teaching guide (pdf) found on the publisher’s website. Extension activities are provided to differentiate instruction and links are included to additional resources. As an ELA supplement, it addresses both key concepts and skills. For science classes, it covers key concepts in Life Science and Earth Systems.
Beyond academics, The Walking Fish is equally appealing as a choice for ‘reading for pleasure’. The plot and character development are superb. The authors obviously did their research as evidenced by their accurate portrayal of scientific facts woven into the story. I look forward to more adventures for Alexis and her friend, Darshan, in the coming years.
The Walking Fish begins, appropriately, with a ‘hook’:
“When you get right down to it, I only discovered the Walking Fish because Grandpa got sloppy with a chainsaw. Had he been more careful cutting down the maple tree, he would not have lost most of the fingers of his right hand. ‘Four of my favorite fingers,’ he said. Without them, fishing was a bit of a struggle.”
And the short opening section that follows sets an idyllic scene between an obviously bright young girl and her “punning” grandfather.”
They are in “his little fishing boat,” floating desultorily on a lake on a “sunny fall day,” and discussing in a comfortable familiar way whether our narrator will be willing to serve as hook-baiter for her grandfather whose hook-baiting hand can no longer handle the wiggling worms.
This is a book suited for children. The introductory scene-setting happens in fewer than two pages, and in that short space, those eight-year-olds are already invested in characters, scene, and story. The truth is that this seventy-year-old reviewer was reading with more than a little curiosity by this point. I like this sharp, nearly-adolescent girl, trading puns with her endearing grandparent; I like her quite a lot. By the end of Chapter Two, she has been assured by her father, a high school science teacher, backed up by an environmental scientist and a neighbor at Glacial Lake, where they spend their summers, that although the Fish and Wildlife people have attempted to stock the lake, fish just don’t seem to survive,” something about the minerals in the water.” The absence of fish, of course, means that the grandfather we met a few pages back isn’t much interested in joining the family for the summer.
The chapter’s last scene finds our intrepid explorer flat on her belly beside the lake, having abandoned for the moment her search for frogs, gazing into the settling water at
“a creature like nothing I had ever seen. A fish! And it appeared to be standing on little legs and waving up at me.”
And there we have it: an appealing and believable young girl, her parents, a lake house, a grandfather who fishes, a father who teaches science, a “lake neighbor” who is an environmental scientist at a local college, a lake where the fish are dying, and a mystery.
Authors Rachelle Burk & Kopek Burk, MD, have created an irresistible, tightly crafted book that fulfills every purpose for which Tumblehome Learning exists–and they have done it by the bottom of page 8! ~Review by author and blogger Dean Robertson (read full blog about the publisher)
Rachelle searches for new species with cavers from University of West Virginia (Sept 2014)