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The Birthday Fish

3.61  ·  Rating details ·  139 Ratings  ·  27 Reviews
" Cynthia loved ponies. All she could think about was ponies. Every birthday Cynthia wished for a pony and every birthday she got something else."
An adorable new picture book about an unlikely friendship
Cynthia has always wanted a pony of her very own and is sure her parents will give her one for her birthday. But to her dismay, they give her a goldfish instead. Determin
Hardcover, 40 pages
Published June 1st 2005 by Henry Holt & Company
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May 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
Magical fish and friendship!
Apr 02, 2010 rated it it was amazing
I love this book, because almost anyone can relate to asking for a particular gift and receiving something else.
Mar 18, 2010 rated it really liked it
Cute story about a girl that keeps asking for a particular gift but always gets something else.
Mar 17, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: magical-realism
The Birthday Fish by Dan Yaccarino tells of Cynthia, who always asks for a pony. What will she do the year she gets a goldfish for her birthday?

Yaccarino's illustrations show many details while mainly focusing on Cynthia and the goldfish. My favorite images are rockinghorse, holding package, goldfish, pet store, and sunset.

This is an interesting combination of realism and magic. Most children have wished for something they never got, or that was unrealistic. The talking fish is clever. The fish
Aug 26, 2013 rated it liked it
I enjoy a book where the author and illustrator is one in the same. Then I know the story and the drawings will match seamlessly, as they do in this book. The story is a simple one, and so are the drawings, but they do not fail to get the point across. Sometimes what we really want is what we already have. Having a niece who has wanted a horse since she was old enough to express the desire, I understood how disappointed Cynthia was to receive, not a pony, but a goldfish, for her birthday. As I r ...more
Oct 17, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Cynthia wishes for a pony each year on her birthday. She is convinced that this birthday she will finally receive her pony, but instead, she receives a fish. She starts to pour the fish down the sink, but he promises to grant her wish if she will set him free. She carefully takes him to the lake and the two watch the sunset together. Cynthia gives him the name she had been saving for her pony and takes him home.

This book would be appropriate to share as a read aloud with children between two and
Tim Johnson
Oct 22, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: kids-time
Not sure how to interpret this one. A goldfish is forced to plead for its life with the little girl who is about to put it down the garbage disposal because he isn't the pony she asked for. He tells her that he's a magical goldfish who will grant her two wishes if she releases him in the lake. So they walk the whole day to get to the lake and she decides she's not going to set him free. She's not going to put him in the disposal either. She's gonna keep him in that little bowl wondering each day ...more
R. C.
Feb 16, 2009 rated it did not like it
I tried to use this very simple picture book as a jumping off point for discussing with my six-year-old the necessity of adjusting one's expectations and dealing with disappointment healthfully. It didn't work. A little girl wants a pony so when she gets a fish she goes directly (and eerily calmly) to dump it down the drain. The fish begs to be let go in wild waters instead so he can have his freedom. The girl agrees, but on the way over falls in love with the fish and decides to... enslave him ...more
Jan 29, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: picture
Cynthia wants a pony more than anything. She has wanted a pony for a very long time. Instead of a pony she gets a goldfish. Which would be bitterly disappointing except that Cynthia's goldfish can talk! How cool is that? But despite the magical qualities of the goldfish, Cynthia still pines for a pony. I won't spoil the story by saying what happens but I will say that sometimes the things we have or get are actually better than the things that we think that we want. Right, Cynthia?
Danna Smith
Dec 07, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I read this story years ago but recently read it again and I have to say I still love it! Cynthia loved ponies so much that she asked for one for her birthday. Instead, she receives a gold fish and is going to flush it down the toilet until the clever fish talks her into taking him to the lake to free him. Cynthia takes care of and protects the gold fish along the way and by the time they reach the lake they have formed a friendship. The illustrations are fun and bright.
Jun 25, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: picture-books
A simple story about a little girl who has always wanted a pony (what little fantasy girl hasn't, right?). She's asked for one on every occasion, but has never gotten a pony. Then, on her birthday, she receives a manageable pet: a fish! The fish is also magical and can talk, and promises the girl her wish if she takes him to the lake and set him free. On the journey to the lake, though, the girl and fish bond. Illustrations are cartoon-like.
Jun 01, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: birthday
Kids made lots of predictions when reading this book including that the cat would eat the fish or the dog would also eat the fish. They were caught off guard that she loved her new pet fish and called him Marigold, even though he was not a pony.
Jul 22, 2010 rated it liked it
The little girl wants a pony for her birthday, which she will name Marigold. But, when she recieves a goldfish, her disappointment is clear. The Birthday Fish is clever, however, and endears himself to her.

Used for "Fish-A-Mania" storytime-July, 2010.
Feb 12, 2010 rated it it was amazing
A sweet book about a girl who can't wait till her birthday! But when it comes, she gets something she wasn't expecting. This book is something all children can relate to, because they all have a birthday.
Sep 25, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This book is adorable. My three year old students loved it!It has great illustrations. It is about a child who does not get the birthday gift that she really wanted and how she learns to cope with the situation. Most kids can relate as well as adults. It is funny as well.
Jan 31, 2015 rated it really liked it
3.75 stars. Sweet and funny story about a girl learning to love her pet goldfish, even though it isn't a pony.
Julie Esanu
Nov 09, 2015 rated it really liked it
Read this in conjunction for Read for the Record 2015. It was a great book to use for making predictions and text-to-text connections. The kids in K/1 loved this book--too bad it's out of print.
Whitney Bailey
About a little girl who wishes for a pony but only gets other things. Finally she gets a fish but doesn't want it, fish talks and they end up being just fine with the way things are.
Feb 25, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: story-time-books
Used this book for "orange" theme. The kids really enjoyed it and I might be able to use it for mature lap sitters too.
Apr 16, 2011 rated it really liked it
What's to be done when all you've ever wanted was a pony, but your parents get you a...goldfish?
Apr 11, 2010 rated it really liked it
Birthdays are very special to children. Every child has a wish list of things they want for their birthday. But what happens when you get something that you are not expecting?
Michelle Carter
Apr 30, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Sweet book about a girl that just cannot get that one special gift that she wants. Great story about not always getting what you want, but what counts is what you do with what you do get.
add this to "just in case" Fish-themed storytime
Jan 16, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: birthdays, pets
What an adorable little book!
Jul 18, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: storytime
pets, fish
Jenny Forgay
Mar 23, 2010 rated it it was amazing
I think every child has wanted something for their birthday they haven't recieved. This book shows you sometimes the wierdest thing can surprise you.
Feb 23, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: birthday
It's an interesting concept to help children deal with reality vs. "But I want it" and responsible pet ownership, but the ending is a little jarring and I think kids will feel it as well.
Joseph Puzey
rated it really liked it
Apr 08, 2016
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Dec 03, 2012
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Sep 18, 2015
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Exhibitions of his work have been held throughout the world. He is also the creator of the animated TV Series Willa's Wild Life and Oswald.

Mr. Yaccarino lives in New York City with his wife and two children.
More about Dan Yaccarino...