Kat Kennedy's Reviews > The Rainbow Fish

The Rainbow Fish by Marcus Pfister
Rate this book
Clear rating

's review
Mar 30, 12

did not like it
bookshelves: just-plain-bad, kat-s-book-reviews, kat-s-rants
Recommended for: My infant son's enemies/rivals

I'm always on the look-out for new, well-written children's books for my son. We had been reading him: Help! Mom! There Are Liberals Under My Bed! and Why Mommy is a Democrat.

He loved the story and drawings!




However, he didn't seem to take to them as much as I thought he would...so I decided to find something else as informative, well-balanced and fun to read with my child.

Then I came across The Rainbow Fish by Macrus Pfister.

The Rainbow Fish is a story about a spectacular fish with amazing scales. Soon, other - boring fish - come and request a scale from the fish who turns them all down. The boring fish leave, causing the Rainbow Fish to be lonely. The Rainbow fish goes on a journey to discover why the other fish don't like him.

The Rainbow Fish is soon told by the octopus that it is because he won't share his amazing scales. The Rainbow Fish then goes to the other fish and gives them his scales. Eventually all the fish have a shiny scale and the Rainbow Fish now has only one shiny scale left as well. The fish all play together happily. The end.

Fantastic! A book about learning. Isn't that brilliant?

I suggest that you go buy this book for your children. It's important that your children realize that it is NEVER okay to be different from other children. After all, we as people are not allowed to be stronger/weaker, smarter/less intellectual, creative/logical, physically, spiritually or emotionally better than others. In fact, we should ALL be the same.


And it's also important that you teach your children that, in life, they are entitled. If someone has something more - then it is okay to expect that they give it to you. In fact, you should shun them if they don't. If you work hard and have much - please remember you must share it all. Even if you don't want to. Don't expect to be liked just for your personality. You must give everything you have to ensure that you are liked.


Nothing is worse than being unliked. Don't let you children think differently or it could go very badly for them. Your individuality is not precious and there is no degree to which it can't be compromised in order to make people like you. Remember. WHO you are - your morals, intellect, personality and charm aren't nearly as important to you as they are to other people. Never be afraid to give away any part of yourself in order to be liked. Just like:

See! Even culture can be bastardized to fit in!

Maybe I am being the grinch. Maybe I am bespoiling a perfectly good children's book.

Or maybe I'm just wondering what the world would be like if all the Rainbow Fish gave away their pretty scales until there weren't any Rainbow Fish anymore...


Just think... we could all look like this! Who wants to share an earring?

80 likes · flag

Sign into Goodreads to see if any of your friends have read The Rainbow Fish.
Sign In »

Reading Progress

03/14 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-50 of 57) (57 new)

message 1: by Nicole (new)

Nicole Parenting 101 by Kat, very nice :)!! Will be definitely avoiding this one for my kiddies, thanks for the review!

message 2: by AH (new)

AH Eww! Where did you find the last photo? Your review is once again a lot of fun and I agree with you. Why are we making this generation of kids all the same? Lets rejoice in our diversity!

Wicked Incognito Now Yay for Kat!!

And YES!! I've always hated this book. I'm a liberal and a democrat, but I don't think that has to necessarily translate to martyrism and loss of individuality. I complete agree that this book encourages children to change their inherent uniqueness in order to be liked. Stupid stupid book.

message 4: by Miss Clark (new)

Miss Clark Oh, what a review. The pictures were very illustrative (no pun intended). I will be avoiding this one.

message 5: by [deleted user] (new)

how old is your son, kat?

Kat Kennedy He's almost two. I know! I know! It's a little late for him to be picking a political party but I swear, he must be a closet anarchist or something! I just can't get him to solidly decide on either being a liberal or a conservatist! Do you think I should seek professional help for him?

message 7: by Kat Kennedy (last edited Sep 06, 2010 10:04PM) (new) - rated it 1 star

Kat Kennedy April - I actually didn't mean to link this book to any particular political philosophy - I just came across those two political children's propaganda books and was kind of stunned that they existed! But I suppose it kind of reflects on me. Being Australian, I am obviously neither a Democrat, nor a Republican.

In Australia we have the Liberals and Labor party.

The Liberal Party (as a nice turn of events) is our conservative/republican type party.

The Labor Party is the closest thing we have to Democrats - perhaps because you'll find that Democrats wouldn't have much to do here in Australia. We already have free healthcare, good quality welfare etc. So instead, they spend a lot of time making sure that our employers can NEVER fire us no matter how incompetent or useless we end out being.

As for my political side - well, to dumb it down so that my son can understand: I think it's really important that we all share and learn to play together. But I also think it's equally important to remember that everybody is different and so we have to accomodate some people differently because they're special! Now let's all sing! "Everybody Clap! *Clap**clap**Clap* Oh! Except you little, Timmy! Because you have no hands!"

message 8: by Penny (new)

Penny Is that what that book is about? Really? So, I'm supposed to encourage my kid to hide all the things that make her unique, and/or buy friends with goods or services? Niiiiiiice. Who is the d-bag who wrote this crap?

Seriously though, Kat, you kicked this books ass. You are so bad ass.

Kat Kennedy Haha! Yeah, Penny! I'm so badass at tearing apart children's stories! *Shrugs* I'd never heard of the author - but some friends bought the book with them for while I was babysitting their daughter. Glad I didn't pay for it!

Wicked Incognito Now My kids remember the story fondly and often asked for me to read it to them when they were young. I hated it. Not only for the stupid message, but I don't like to read children's books out loud that don't have a nice cadence and rhythm to the words. I found the paragraphs too clunky and uninteresting.

They liked the illlustrations and the sparkly scales on rainbow fish. So their fascination was purely visceral.

Wicked Incognito Now Kat wrote: "April - I actually didn't mean to link this book to any particular political philosophy - I just came across those two political children's propaganda books and was kind of stunned that they existe..."

I was confused about that. I was all "isn't Kat Australian?"

Kat Kennedy Ah! Visceral fascination... a sin I'm probably far too guilty of (MMMMmmmm! Was that a pretty man on the jacket of that book? Might be worth reading...)

But yes, I agree. It grated on my nerves as I read it to my son and their daughter - thus my decision to come on GR and bash the hell out of it.

message 13: by AH (new)

AH And Kat, we thank you for giving us the smile of the day with your rants. I can't believe that there are democrat/republican books for children. Unless? Naw, couldn't be....

Kat Kennedy I know, I was quite suprised! I'm totally not making it up, though! Those books are earnest and they completely exist!

message 15: by AH (new)

AH Loved the healthcare and welfare mentions...

Spider the Doof Warrior That chick had a samurai sword.
I want a samurai sword.
This doesn't sound like a very nice book. I don't think you should have to give up all of your pretty scales and it's ok and good and healthy to be different and folks should just DEAL with that.

message 17: by [deleted user] (new)

I was going to review this book after Ceridwen's fire-breathing Disney Princess book review, but you said it all here for me and then some. Great review!

message 18: by Scribble (new)

Scribble Orca That last pic!!! That must have come right out of some YA paranormal/zombie/freak book. Either that or someone should write one about it.

message 19: by [deleted user] (new)

I hate this book. Brilliant.

Kat Kennedy Yeah, I read this book once to my son and despised it immediately. Glad you guys liked the review.

Amelia, the pragmatic idealist I think this is my favorite review in the whole wide world, Kat. I mean, you've always written funny/insightful/awesome/amazing reviews, and you've always been a friend to me on goodreads, but now you are my HERO.
Legit. I wish I had President Obama's email address so I could forward this to him. Ha! I never, EVER thought about THE RAINBOW FISH as anything other than sharing and getting along and not being a spoiled brat...but that's what my TEACHER WANTED ME TO THINK! (maybe). Oh my gosh, how right you are! Why the HECK did the fish give his scales away? And hey, other dem fish: sometimes the answer is freaking NO.
It reminds me of when I was a kid:
In kindergarten, I had a really cool little friend named Jeffrey. Jeffrey wore a "special hat" to school sometimes. It was little and sat on the tip of his head. I wanted a little "special hat" like that, but my mommy wouldn't buy me one because she said "sweetie, we're not Jewish." But I WANTED Jeffrey's hat! (later I would learn that it's not called a "hat" - it's called a kippah) And when I asked him if I could wear it for awhile, he said no. CAUSE IT WAS HIS HAT (KIPPAH). And I learned: sometimes the answer is NO. And sometimes your cool Jewish friends have cool awesome hats and your little Christian self doesn't have anything but a WWJD bracelet that *everybody else* has. Life's not fair! We're all different. And how did I not SEE that lesson in this book?
Wow I really need to stop now. You may read this and think "that's some crazy crap."
But I love this review. And I think I'm going to forward it to my GOP uncle-Congressman. He'll get a kick out of it. <3

message 22: by Kat Kennedy (last edited Dec 14, 2010 09:39PM) (new) - rated it 1 star

Kat Kennedy No, I completely understand. It's a very freeing philosophy! We're all different! Some of us have an assload of scales, some of us have none. To some people, that may not seem fair but it's how life is.

And you cab bet that when a shark comes along, the fish without the attention-getting scales is suddenly going to feel a whole lot more self confident!

message 23: by Indi (new) - added it

Indi I was really surprised at your insight. However, I hope you'll allow me to share mine. I felt like the story could have also been teaching the valuable lesson of compromise-- that sometimes you have to give a little to get a little. I think maybe this starts teaching children that nothing in life is free or should be taken for granted, and that each thing usually comes with its price. In this case, the price for companionship was the scales. If a parent thought that this was too harsh for a child, then they have a right to that opinion and should therefore abstain from reading the book to their child. In addition, I think it is a bit unfair, in my opinion, to say that because the fish gave away all its pretty scales, it can't be individualistic. It's like saying people of the same color lose their individualism within one another. I beg to differ. There are other qualities that could have set the rainbow fish apart—his kindness when he shared his scales, his curiosity for why he had no friends, etc. And who says being unique is always a good thing? A lot of conditioning happens when we're young and at school. We learn a part of our social norms there, as well as at home. If we didn't embrace some of our social norms, then (in an extreme example) many of our laws would be broken. Having a good feel for what is considered "normal" and "socially acceptable" is a way of survival. Personally, I think that there is more than meets the eye when it comes to this book. I liked the optimism I saw in this book, so I guess my review is biased. But what “review” isn’t biased? From this book, I gained the value of reflection; sometimes in order to find solutions to your problems, you have to be able to reflect on your actions and be assertive in carrying out your solution.

Kat Kennedy I think there are several ways of looking at this book.

That the scales are like toys - you should share, right? A commenter above mentioned sharing this with her GOP relative. Funny as that is if I were to interpret the book this way, I'd have to disagree with my own review. Because I believe in sharing what we have, to a degree, in a societal sense.

But, this book isn't about learning to share so much, to me, it's about pleasing others so that we can be liked. That's where I take my issues. I saw the scales as representing the actual fish in terms of who he is. At the end of the book, he is indistinguishable from the other fish - thus making him just as boring as the others.

I think it's important to teach children to value who they are. I interpreted this book like a child with a brilliant gift (take singing). The attention from such a gift makes the other children jealous and thus the child tries to, instead of rejoicing in their gift, be like everyone else.

message 25: by Krystle (new)

Krystle I remember liking this book as a kid because there were shiny things in the pictures not really the story. Rofl.

message 26: by [deleted user] (new)

We already have free healthcare, good quality welfare etc. I'm not trying to be political, but I find it sad that America is still fighting these battles. I'm glad that you do not have to have a political party FIGHT for you to have INSURANCE and WELFARE.

Kat Kennedy Yeah, Steph and I are just chatting about it now, actually.

I think the developed world is kind of looking at American conservatives and saying soothingly, "It's okay! It works! You're the only first world nation that DOESN'T do it! You can though! C'mon!"

Spider the Doof Warrior Australia seems like it would be a cool place to live. I long to have one of those adorable Australian wolf spiders.

Kat Kennedy You're really freaky about the spiders, Synesthesia!

Yeah. I love living here. Universal healthcare, excellent wellfare, paid parental leave, great unions=great job security, good tax system (mostly)

The only problem is my government's obsession with "stopping the boats".

FFS! They're refugees and Asylum Seekers. Just let them in!

message 30: by AH (new)

AH John Stewart did a show where they interviewed Americans from Mississippi about healthcare and the election - it was very interesting. I'll see if I can find a link that works internationally.

message 31: by Lyndi (new)

Lyndi I think Little Timmy should have to clap as well. He shouldn't be treated any differently, Kat! *sniffles*

Spider the Doof Warrior Spiders are so cute....

message 33: by [deleted user] (new)

I'm having issues with the whole battle over birth control....I really hope I can move out of here and into Europe one day!

message 34: by Lady Jaye (new)

Lady Jaye @Lyn Kaye - at least people are fighting over birth control. Try living in Africa where for many people their reproductive rights are FULLY controlled by the men in their live, smh

Kat Kennedy Which would be a valid argument - BUT a first world country which is a world leader, shouldn't force it's women to argue over birth control AGAIN. Women should already have equality. Their reproductive rights should not be brought in to political battles and they have a right to be upset about that.

The attitude of, "Well, we're lucky we have these rights! Things are so much worse over in X third world country!" is ridiculous in retrospect. No. They are not lucky they have these rights. They are supposed to have those rights.

What is happening to a portion of the women in Africa is horrifying, but shouldn't take away from the fact that American women are being treated appallingly on their own front.

That's really comparing apples and oranges.

message 36: by Lady Jaye (new)

Lady Jaye My point is, at least the argument has begun. I was under the impression that previously, there was no discussion of these rights - to have insurance pay for birth control, etc. up until recently when the gov't decided to put that into legislation. I don't recall it even being an option on the table when I lived in the US. So it is moving somewhere, even if it's not as quickly as people want.

Kat Kennedy Well, birth control has, for a long time, been provided by government mandate by all employers. Except for church employees and the associated organizations.

Obama government was only trying to bridge that gap by forcing the medical insurers to cover church employees for birth control.

But the issues in the US go much further than just ADVANCING birth control. They're trying to turn back the clock with legislation forcing women to undergo mandatory transvaginal ultrasounds before abortions, the Blunt amendment which was thankfully overturned, forcing wait periods, Texas completely defunding Planned Parenthood and cutting off healthy access to more than 130,000 of Texas' poorest women, laws that prohibit emotional support partners to be present for abortions, laws forcing doctors to lie to patients about supposed, unfounded risks to abortions, laws allowing doctors to lie to patients about the health of their fetus in the hopes that the patient won't get an abortion, laws forbidding abortion after 20 weeks, laws forcing women to reveal to their boss why they're on birth control and making it easier for their boss to fire them if she is paying for her own birth control.

This isn't about an argument advancing women's rights. This is attacks, step by step, to the eventual overturning of Roe vs Wade and an attempt by conservative government to control women's reproductive rights.

message 38: by Lady Jaye (last edited Mar 31, 2012 02:32AM) (new)

Lady Jaye When you put it that way, I guess I see it in a different light then.

It's always rather seemed to me as the death knell of the old guard who are attempting to feebly hold on to power somehow. No matter how they hem and haw, the times have changed far too much for them to win....

Kat Kennedy I guess that's the rub, because the conservatives are not lacking in power or popularity - especially among the evangelical conservatives who are growing ever more politically organized and fundamental.

message 40: by Annie (new)

Annie Moral of the story: change yourself in physically scarring (and possibly painful) ways so that your peers will accept you.

Kat Kennedy That's what I took away from it, Annie!

Ebony - I don't get it either. Maybe because children are attracted to the pretty, sparkles.

message 42: by Diane (new)

Diane Sing it, sistah!

message 43: by Tasha (last edited Apr 01, 2012 05:38PM) (new) - added it

Tasha Damn, I thought it was a book about sharing. :)

Kat Kennedy It's a socialist manifesto. Didn't ya know?

message 45: by [deleted user] (new)

Kat: Read #4: http://www.cracked.com/article_19744_...

I laughed So hard because I thought about you right away.

Loveliest Evaris But.. but.. the scales.. they're so shiny o_o.. It's about sharing D: You ruined this book for me! -cries-

Kat Kennedy Sorry, Talyn. Poor fish has such poor self esteem.

Zacaro Caro It's not that the fish is different and disliked for being unique. It's about sharing your gifts with others.

message 49: by [deleted user] (new)

Zacaro wrote: "It's not that the fish is different and disliked for being unique. It's about sharing your gifts with others."

It is good that you have your interpretation of the book, but this reviewer felt differently.
Please write your own review to express your own opinion.

Allison I love you. This is what I've always thought about Rainbow Fish!

« previous 1
back to top