Spoiler alert: This review discusses the entire story of Tiddler.
Creatures with imagination will always clash with creatures with no imagination. “Creatures? Wait, don’t you mean people?” I hear you say. No, I mean Tiddler, the story telling fish.
As I’ve mentioned before I love books that bring home to children the value of a story and in Tiddler we have a little fish who does just that. He does not hear others tell stories but derives creative satisfaction from the “tall tales” he spins. Some people would call them lies. Others call them stories. But then as Haruki Murakami says what is a story if not a lie?
Little Tiddler is late for school every morning and cooks up a story explaining his delay. More often than not his friends do not believe him with the exception of Little Jonny Dory who dutifully reports every tale to his granny. The granny, a bit of a gossip, spreads the tale about. All this continues for a period till Tiddler, in classic boy who cried wolf style, really does get into trouble. He is lost, and cold and scared in an unfamiliar part of the sea till he finds his way back home by tracking the spread of his ‘stories’ in reverse order right back to little Jonny Dory and school.
The book is a wealth of information on marine life and Axel Scheffler’s illustrations as always are an excellent support to the story. I also used this book to teach my little one about time. In classic Julia Donaldson style, the book contains a little something for me as well. I was pleasantly surprised to see a bit of meta-fictional touch in the ending of the story when Donaldson hints at her role in the birth of the story!
A precious gem of a book and highly recommended for both young and old lovers of picture books.