Cover image for At the wish of the fish : an adaptation of a Russian folktale
At the wish of the fish : an adaptation of a Russian folktale
Lewis, J. Patrick.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Athenuem Books for Young Readers, 1999.
Physical Description:
1 volume (unpaged) : color illustrations ; 29 cm
In this adaptation of a traditional Russian tale, a lazy fool catches an enchanted fish which promises him that every wish he ever makes will come true.
General Note:
Based on the Russian folk tale, Po shchuchʹemu velenʹi͡u.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR LG 4.3 0.5 46243.
Added Uniform Title:
Po shchuchʹemu velenʹi͡u.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Central Library PZ8.L48116 AT 1999 Juvenile Non-Fiction Childrens Area
Clarence Library PZ8.L48116 AT 1999 Juvenile Non-Fiction Fairy Tales
Eggertsville-Snyder Library PZ8.L48116 AT 1999 Juvenile Non-Fiction Open Shelf
Elma Library PZ8.L48116 AT 1999 Juvenile Non-Fiction Fairy Tales

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In this adaptation of a traditional Russian tale, a lazy fool catches an enchanted fish which promises him that every wish he ever makes will come true."

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Ages 6^-9. In this imaginative classic Russian tale, Emelya, a lazy simpleton, catches an enchanted fish. The pike promises to grant Emelya his every desire if he will pitch the fish back into the sea, and soon everyone is transfixed by Emelya's powers. Formerly, he did no chores; but now, buckets of water march into his house, and kindling is split and stacked at his command. When Emelya meets the tsar's daughter, he falls in love with her and requests the pike to make her fall for him, too. When they want to marry, the tsar refuses his daughter's hand to a simpleton and casts them both into the sea. The pike rescues them and turns Emelya into a nobleman, and the tsar finally approves the marriage. Children will marvel at the cleverness of a man who, though a fool, knows what to wish for and gets what he wants. Krenina's richly colored watercolors provide additional magic to a delightful, fanciful romance. --Shelley Townsend-Hudson

Publisher's Weekly Review

Lewis (The La-di-da Hare) takes a tale ripe with classic folk elements and brings out its full flavor by means of thoughtfully seasoned language. Emelya, the village fool, is promised anything he desires in return for freeing a pike he has accidentally caught. He tests out the pike's powers before accepting the deal, but he doesn't avail himself of the pike's help until much later, when he is ordered to get a sleighful of kindling from the forest. Then, issuing a rhymed command ("At the pike's request, the sleigh runs west"), Emelya races his sleigh so quickly that the peasants can't get out of his way in time. The Tsar orders him seized ("You knocked over half a village," the Tsar roars), and the rest of the story concerns Emelya's love for the Tsar's beautiful daughter and his use of magic wishes to win first the girl and then her outraged father's approval. The wishes made in rhyme combine with metaphoric language ("Winter is still beating at the door," says Emelya's sister-in-law when she tells him to gather the kindling) and colorful expressions ("Faster than a mouse on a cat's watch, Marya ran down the stairs"). Unfortunately, Kr‚nina's (The Birds' Gift: A Ukrainian Easter Story) folkloric watercolor and gouache art works against the comedy and liveliness of the tale. For example, the fateful sleigh ride isn't depicted; instead, readers see a few peasants at a safe remove, gaping but otherwise untroubled. A regiment of the Tsar's Imperial Guard is visually translated as three men in red caftans, and even the action sequences seem static. Ages 6-9. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

Gr 1-4-Emelya sleeps on the stove, and prefers not to move from it. But when his sisters-in-law ask him to fetch a pail of water (under threat of tattling to his brothers), he ventures out and catches a pike that offers him wishes in exchange for its life. "At the wish of the fish," all of the young man's chores are done magically, but soon the Tsar catches wind of him. Of course, Emelya's story lands him in a palace, married to the Tsar's daughter, and a fool no more. This story, collected originally in the 19th century by Alexander Afanasyev, was previously retold by Lenny Hort as The Fool and the Fish (Dial, 1990; o.p.) and illustrated by Gennady Spirin. The two versions are very similar, but this one is more appropriate for younger children. Lewis has a skillful sense of pacing and conversation, and Kr‚nina's gouache-and-watercolor folk-style pictures are bright, humorous, and full of movement. The well-varied layout alters mood and perspective in pace with the narrative, making the book well suited for storytime. Less appealing in this retelling is the fact that Emelya uses the fish's powers to make the Tsar's daughter fall in love with him, and to make himself "less a fool." In Hort's version, the Tsar's daughter falls in love with the protagonist all on her own, and he remains a "fool"-yet it is clear, from the turn of events, that his foolishness is a source of charm and unexpected cleverness. Still, this is a satisfying story, well designed in every aspect, and is a useful companion to Hort and Spirin's collaboration.-Nina Lindsay, Oakland Public Library, CA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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