Book Review: A Fish in Foreign Waters


A Fish in Foreign Waters: A Book for Bilingual Children

Written by Laura Caputo-Wickham

Illustrated by Pamela Goodman

28 pages

Published by Long Bridge Publishing

Publication date: 2015

Age range: 3 +

Summary (from Goodreads):

Rosie Ray’s world gets thrown upside down when her family has to move far away. She soon has to learn a new language and make new friends. Being bilingual is not always easy, but on the day of her birthday she makes a very exciting discovery. A Fish in Foreign Waters helps parents and teachers get children excited about being bilingual with lovely illustrations and an entertaining story.

When they arrived they were shocked by the change, 

The bay looked quite nice but the language was strange,

In Green Bay the words bubbled out bug and round, 

But here they were square and they made a weird sound!

I am always on the lookout for books which promote language learning and show positive images of bilingualism and multilingualism – more people in the world are bilingual than monolingual and I feel that the attitude of ‘English is enough’ really needs to be challenged in mainly-monolingual countries.

This book does not go into a great deal of depth, but does serve as an introduction to the topic of a child growing up with one language, then moving into a community where another language is the main one used for daily life.

I liked how the family described their initial impressions of the language being a different ‘shape’ to the one they were used to, how Rosie studied the new language and helped her parents (many children end up in the posituon of unofficial interpreter!), and how she was able to build bridges between her two communities through her bilingualism.

Definitely a book to add to your collection of books promoting diversity, tolerance and understanding!

“I though I was lonely, but I see in the end…

That doubling the languages doubles the friends!”

What I liked: Positive messages about being bilingual, especially when Rosie becomes in demand when translating between her two groups of friends. Cute illustrations too!

Even better if: Would like to see more books with these positive messages!

How you could use it in your classroom: Definitely a book to read with your class, whether or not you have any multilingual pupils. Honestly, I would be surprised if you don’t have quite a few! Multilingualism is more prevalent than monolingualism so I think it is really important that we talk with children about this norm and encourage them to maintain their bilingualism/ learn another language if they’re not already bilingual.

(Found this on the internet while looking for books for children about bilingualism and ordered a copy for myself and my classroom!)


20 Comments Add yours

  1. I love the concepts explored here. I’ve been trying to reach my children Spanish as well, and I’m always interested in anything that will encourage them to want to learn.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I really like ‘Say Hello! by Rachel Isadora too – always read it to my class at the beginning of the year, then learn different ways to say hello to answer the register. Good luck teaching your children Spanish – it may be tough at times but it will give them such an advantage! x

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Will look for that one too. Thanks very much.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. An positive introduction to bilingualism is always welcome. Thank you for sharing this book!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you, glad you found it useful!


  3. Our ml home says:

    One of my favourite books. I got it to help my daughter with accepting that being trilingual is okay. I could tell as she listened to the story and gazed at the beautiful illustrations that the message was slowly making its way in her mind.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s so lovely to hear! I think it’s so important to to teach children that being multilingual is normal and good, rather than the deficit model that was sadly so prevalent for years. Congratulations on raising your daughter trilingually -which languages are you using? Good luck with that wonderful journey!


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