December 12, 2014

Fishermen Through & Through

by Colleen Sydor
Illustrated by Brooke Kerrigan
Red Deer Press
32 pp.
Ages 4+
November 2014
There once lived three fishermen: Peter, Santiago, and Ahab. They were tough. They were as salty as the bottom of a pretzel bag. They were as weathered as a twisted stick of driftwood. (pg. 3)
These three men are the titular fisherman, a companionable trio whose lives on the sea do not preclude their ability to dream. Peter dreams of camel travel across a desert of sand,  Santiago imagines balloon travel on the wide expanse of sky, and Ahab is enamoured with the vision of endless fields of coloured tulips. But, as Fishermen Through & Through, they continue to fish, until one day, blow me down, a beautiful, white lobster becomes entangled in their nets.

Not wishing to be selfish, the three take their catch to the Fisherman's Net, a local restaurant, to be honoured by placement in a grand seawater tank, for all to enjoy.  News of the albino lobster spreads and everyone, from reporters to biologists and photographers, come to visit and witness the splendour of the lobster.  But, when the fishermen are offered a great deal of money for the lobster, they find themselves considering their dreams, the lobster and life on the sea to help them make the right decision.

Whether Colleen Sydor's three fishermen represent Saint Peter, Hemingway's old fisherman from The Old Man and the Sea, and Moby Dick's captain Ahab is irrelevant–though fitting–they are a credit to their vocation, fishermen through and through.  And their respect for the ocean, and what it gives and takes, is uncompromising.  With Brooke Kerrigan creating the graphics, the pencil illustrations are beautifully awash in soft watercolours, bringing the gentle waters and straightforward characters to complement the positive text.  Illustrator of Wellington's Rainy Day (Beck, 2011) and award-winning Kiss Me! (I'm a Prince) (McLeod, 2011) Brooke Kerrigan doesn't just add the pictures; she creates the spirit of Colleen Sydor's story through line and colour. Fishermen Through & Through is a complete story, through and through.

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