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Arlene Sardine
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Arlene Sardine

3.64 of 5 stars 3.64  ·  rating details  ·  191 ratings  ·  58 reviews
Born in a fjord, a tiny fish named Arlene wants to be a sardine. Fully grown by two, she swims into a big purse net along with thousands of friends from her school. After three days and three nights, she is lifted out of the water and dropped onto the deck of a fishing boat, where she dies. But that's not the end of Arlene's story. It takes a lot more than just being caugh ...more
Hardcover, 40 pages
Published September 1st 1998 by Scholastic
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Jennifer Borduin
While the process of learning about how sardine's are packed weren't exactly pleasant, I did find this book to be great for mathematics in the field of measurement and capacity. After reading the book, children can get their own different sized "Sardine cans" and place fake sardines (or sardine replicas) into the box to fill it's CAPACITY. Children can then count how many sardines it took to fill their capacity, write it on their box and close it. When everyone is finished, they can trade boxes ...more
Oct 28, 2008 Jodysegal rated it 1 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: i wouldn't
I’m late to the Arlene conversation, but I have to join the chorus of huh?'s this book inspired. Raschka’s typically lovely art is great, but the story is bizarre to the point of meaningless. Are we to celebrate her fate with pseudo-poetic, Lear-esque nonsense, such as: “Then she was smoked, delicately. She was delicately smoked. Delicately smoked was she.” Lear was funny and creative. This isn’t.
Alexa Tamayo
Arlene Sardine is an altogether shocking yet amusing, clever yet realistic narrative of the true life of a sardine. It begins with an introduction of a fish named Arlene whose dream is to become a sardine. She does all she can to reach this dream...including death. Just when you fall in love with the charm of Arlene through Raschka's use of clever language, Arlene dies halfway through the story. "I knew a little fish who wanted to be a sardine. Her name was Arlene. Arlene wanted to be a sardine. ...more
A disturbing children's book about a fish that wants to become a sardine and how that process happens. The is supposed to be light and funny, but I found it pretty messed up. I could not imagine reading this to a child.
Rebecca Ann
Note* some difficult words like fjord, brisling, hermetically. Best for an older child (2cnd or 3rd grd)

This could really be a non fiction book, as it details the (tragic) life of a sardine. I would NOT recommend this for any kind of story-time or you will have the children and/or parents in tears. The fish dies and is processed as food. I found it a bit startling and unpleasant. There is nothing wrong with reading this to a child who wonders where his/her fish comes from, or if the specific chi
Kindal Kottman
Arlene Sardine is a very weird spin on a children's book. The story is centered around the theme of death which to me is very odd for a children"s book. This book is recommended for children k-3 and I feel the idea of talking to children about death may be a dark topic for school. However Arlene the Sardine is not afraid or saddened by death , she actually wants to be a Sardine and hope that she will be eaten. The illustrations are actually quite funny , Arlene's eyes are often "X's" to signify ...more
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Why though? What? Is Chris Raschka a pen name for Franz Kafka? This book contains more information than I care to know about sardines. It was very enjoyably horrific.
Shonna Froebel
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So, not really something I'd use for a children's storytime. I like the concept for older kids (even teens) talking about food, the ethics of meat eating, and the way we anthropomorphize animals in children's books.

I would not read this book to any child who doesn't have a strong stomach and a wicked sense of humour since this book does not shy away from reality. In the middle of the book Arlene dies since this is the only way she can go through the pickling process, etc. I suppose that if she
Amanda Funnell
Speaks of the cost of achieving your dreams.
Uses excellent vocabulary to stretch and challenge students.
Voices make or break the story for read aloud time.
Oct 29, 2007 Meghann rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: elementary school teachers with an offbeat sense of humor.
Shelves: best-books-ever
This children's book is about a fish who strives to be a brined sardine in a can. Step one for a fish with this desire: DIE. Ha! The author doesn't describe the process in a morbid way; it's all very matter-of-fact. This book freaks parents out, though (and a lot of teachers as well), due to the whole dying thing. Very controversial. My master teacher kept a copy in the classroom library, where students had access to it during independent reading opportunities. I plan on doing the same. We all d ...more
Natalie Haskins
Arlene the sardine is an amusing book. The fish Arlene wants to be a sardine, but in order to be that she must die. Some may argue that this is not an appropriate young readers book, however, others may argue that this is a great book to present about death! Because in this story it doesn't end with death, no, there is so much more to the story still! In the end, Arlene achieves her dream of being a a sardine with her friends. The readers focus is not at all about death, but the fact that everyo ...more
Delightfully disturbing.
Morbid. Love it.
So when I first read Arlene Sardine for my Children's Lit class, I was a little disturbed by it. It wasn't until I read it again and had to write a review on it for the same class that I came to appreciate the humor and irony in it. While these feelings may be lost on children who get attached to Arlene in the first half of the book, I think adults will find it pretty clever!

But good luck finding it anywhere if you want to buy it. Barnes and Noble and Amazon both only carry used copies.
Jason Beyer
I have enjoyed many of Raschka's books and I was really liking this one in the beginning. Then I realized what this book is really about. Basically, a fish named Arlene who wants to be a sardine, whose dream is to be caught, frozen, packaged, and canned. It kind of reminds me of the way farm animals are personified and how we are led to believe that the food we eat comes from happy cows, pigs, and chickens who want nothing more than to become our dinner. Thanks, but I'll pass.
This book is.just a little different. But I loved it. I loved the illustrations and the story. It was interesting how this lil fish knew she was going to be killed but she looked forward to it because all she wanted tondo was become a sardine. It was also different that even after she died, she was talked about. Had characteristics and still had a name. Again, this book gives us another perspective in death. It doesn't always have to be scary. And life doesn't always end after death.
Nov 04, 2009 Ghislaine rated it 1 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Anyone who wants to justify eating sardines.
Recommended to Ghislaine by: Library School professor as an example of a book you wouldn't wa
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PB #2: This book is definitely different. I wasn't really sure what to think of it while reading it and I am still baffled by it. The book very bluntly talks about the death of the fish. I wouldn't recommend this to young readers because I think that it really messes with people ideologies and talks about topics that are not really talked about in children's books (death for example).
Chelsea Bashore
I can't remember ever laughing so hard in a book. I also realized after reading this that I have quite the morbid sense of humor. I think if I were to have this in a classroom I would just keep it on my shelf for independent reading. I think it is a bit too controversial to read a loud maybe? I think it is a unique way to explain death errr.. and maybe where sardines come from :)
Emily Stueven
If you don't want your child to become a vegetarian, avoid this book. If, however, you are all about vegetarianism and/or love darkly comic picture books about the fishing industry, with a particular focus on a sardine's journey from ocean to can, then read it.

The pictures are vibrant, colorful, and alive, even when Arlene the sardine is dead--as she is through much of the book.
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I absolutely love this book. It is such an odd picture book and handles the subject of death so different and unexpectedly, but it is fantastic. I especially enjoy that it in the end Arlene got what she wanted even though it sounded so awful to us. It puts things into a different perspective for the reader. A good book to have available to students.
I am just not the right reader for this story. It bummed me out that Arlene's life goal was to become a sardine. It was hard for me to stomach the process by which Arlene dies and becomes what she always wanted to be: a sardine. Watercolor illustrations are vibrant and this illustrator's distinctive style works well when rendering fish. PreK-2.
PB#46: This book was started during child lit class but I was curious to read the rest and finish it after class ended. To be honest, although I liked the illustration in match to the text, I do not think this is a kids' book and parts of it were very morbid and controversial/questionable. I would definitely recommend this to young readers!
Cressalyn Davis
This book got me excited about reading to the Kindergartners. I wanted to create a voice for each character that really stood out to the students. This book is not a happy book but in the end Arlene gets what she wants. This a good book to sh ow students to dream big and you might reach those goals.
Dalea Sabrina
Arlene sardine is the story of a little fish who is sardine at the of the book. It is easily one of the best children's books ever written. I cracked up on every page when I read it years ago. It's a very sick story, but that's what makes it so great! It should be shared with everybody!
Chelsea Shannon
Arlene Sardine is a story that tells of Arlene who's life goal is to become a sardine. Even though it might seem sad or dark because Arlene dies to become a sardine, it ultimately has a happy ending because she becomes what she's always wanted to be.
Stephanie Moss
Sometimes following your dreams hurts and has consequences.

My teacher read this book in such a fantastic voice, giving this book life and not just letting the book bring your spirit down, but understanding how working hard pays off but it is hard.
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"I always try to treat the book itself as the artwork," Chris Raschka says. "I don't want you to stop while you're reading one of my books and say, 'Oh! What a gorgeous illustration!' I want you to stop at the end of the book and say, 'This is a good book.' "

Chris Raschka is one of those people who knew from an early age what he wanted to be when he grew up. "It was never a question in my mind,"
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