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Catching a Storyfish
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Catching a Storyfish

4.09  ·  Rating details ·  310 Ratings  ·  81 Reviews
A Kirkus Reviews Best Book of the Year

Keet knows the only good thing about moving away from her Alabama home is that she’ll live near her beloved grandfather. When Keet starts school, it’s even worse than she expected, as the kids tease her about her southern accent. Now Keet, who can “talk the whiskers off a catfish,” doesn’t want to open her mouth. Slowly, though, while
Hardcover, 224 pages
Published September 20th 2016 by WordSong
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Oct 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: novel-in-verse
If you love and study poetry, this is absolutely a must-read.

And if you are searching for a golden mentor text to inspire young poets, this is a must-have.

Jun 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
4.5 stars. I usually don't like books in verse, but I thought this was a wonderful story and I loved the relationship between Keet and her Grandpa. I also liked the variety of poem types and the author's explanation of each type in the back.
Danielle H
Jun 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
Probably a 4.5 or higher if I wasn't reading it during work and interrupting the flow. This book reminds me that every April I'm like I'M GOING TO DO A WHOLE POETRY UNIT and why I really have to follow through with that. I liked the poetry guide in the back to explain the types and structures of the poems in the book, but I really loved the story of it. It seems simple, but there's a lot of emotional weight behind it and most importantly, it made me want to write. Favorites included: the Prologu ...more
The Reading Countess
Dec 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: middle-grade, poetry
Poetic narrative about a girl struggling to regain her voice in a new home. Catching a Storyfish is as much a love letter to family, to the beauty and power of words, and to the importance of teachers and books as it is to the various kinds of poetry that Harrington snuck into the covers. Be sure to check out the glossary, where you might pick up a new form of poetry (like I did) and see it in action on the pages listed in the book. Highly recommended!

"He tells us that if we know someone's story
Oct 05, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 4th-finished
Novels in verse are powerful, but my students too often miss the inference needed to appreciate the entirety of the book. Catching a Storyfish provides just the right amount of inference to a relatable plot. Many of the poems can stand alone as mentor texts to teach various devices, yet the poetry furthers, not obfuscates, the story. This is an honest, linguistically economic look at being an other that everyone can relate to. I'm so glad to have read it.
Samantha Z.
Apr 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 7th-grade
Not only did this book tell a story through many different kinds of poems, but it made an exciting story from a child's perspective. I initially thought I would not like this book, however I need to read a novel in verse for Mrs. Smith's class and this was the only one I could easily borrow. I read the inside cover and thought I'd give it a try. The engaging story made me read this book so fast and give the time and effort to write a review on it.
Reading for CLAU poetry long list. I am champion of this book. And I really enjoyed it. I loved that the author used different poetry styles within the book. I completely related to this little girl's experience in moving, hoping for a new friend, even talking differently! I was "luckily" very young and I think I dropped my southern accent a lot sooner that it wasn't something I was teased about much. And I didn't get to move closer to a grandparent. Nor do I think I am much of a storyteller, th ...more
Jane H
Apr 30, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is about a girl who loves to tell stories. Spoiler alert: At the end she gets a pencil with a fish eraser. Spoiler Alert: She makes friends with someone called Allie but everyone calls her Allie-gator. Spoiler Alert: Everyone calls her Keet-Keet-Parakeet. And she starts getting all quiet when her grandpa goes to the hospital. Spoiler Alert: All Done.
Aug 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
Quick read. Written in poem format this would be a good into to a upper elementary, middle school Poetry Unit as she uses several types of poetry and explains them in a "poetry glossary" at the end of the book.

As far as the story goes I like that it gives a sense of hope and family love. A really sweet story with a good message.
Apr 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
This novel in verse is a lovely poetic fusion of sound and sense--the words sparkle and bob as they release this gentle fishing story that really isn't about fishing at all. Well, maybe just a little. I loved it.
Mel Mollick
Jul 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Another book in verse! If you liked Crossover or Booked, you will love this.
Stacy Fetters
Nov 25, 2016 rated it really liked it
"Knowing someone's story is one way to put an end to a lot of trouble in the world."
Received at BEA Chicago!!
Can we just take a minute to stare at the gorgeousness that is this cover? It speaks so many volumes and is one of the most beautiful covers I have ever seen. Breathe it in!
I wanted to be biased about this book because of where the author lives. She lives in a city that is about 45 minutes away from where I currently live. I couldn't do it. This held on its own and blew me away.
With book
Alexa Hamilton
Oct 28, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: tween
I wish I had the opportunity to read this aloud. The poems are really well written, with a discussion in the back of the different types of poems used in the story. I enjoyed the relationship that Keet has with her grandfather, as well as her growing relationship with her new best friend.
Scott Fillner
Oct 18, 2016 rated it really liked it
Wonderful Novel in verse that has all the emotions and is written in verse !
Tory S. Anderson
Reading this (note: as comprised of poetry, it needs to be read in text, not audio) was a small journey for me. Not really knowing what I was getting into I began unsure and with some criticism. The power of the verse didn't stand up to poetry anthologies or masterpieces of lyric prose that I've read before. It didn't compare to Shel Silverstein or, a little closer to its audience, "Please Bury Me in the Library," either. But after a few pages one realizes that this book is story, and though the ...more
Oct 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
For fans of novels in verse like The Crossover or Out of the Dust, you need to take a look at this story of Katharen and her family as they move from Alabama to Illinois. Her nickname has always been Keet, short for parakeet because she is such a talker. But when the kids at her new school tease her about her Southern accent and call her "Bama Mouth," Keet becomes a very quiet girl. The poems show the changes she goes through as she tries to adjust and fit in, the first steps towards making a ne ...more
I don't know why I always shy away from books written in verse. I don't consider myself a fan of poetry so I suppose the idea of reading a story in that format doesn't appeal to me. Yet the few times I have taken a chance, I have been very impressed. This is one of those times.

The short lines of verse are more powerful than any prose paragraph, capturing Katharen's emotions in a way that a normal sentence might not.

This is a beautiful story about a girl who moves from Alabama to a town further
Sep 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is a super quaint, middle-grade novel in verse. At times, it feels almost like it comes from another time (historical fiction from when the author was a kid?) because the family is just so lovely and nuclear, and Keet is always doing things like going fishing with her grandpa. Keet's family has moved north from Alabama to be closer to her grandpa who is getting older and is living alone. Keet has to start at a new school where all the kids make fun of her accent, and she has trouble finding ...more
This is a beautifully written story in a variety of poetic forms -- explained in the poetry glossary in the back -- dealing primarily with the move of Katharen's (Keet) family to another part of the country and the sorrows and adjustments and new friend that entails. A significant part of the story is spent on the relationship with her widowed grandfather and their time spent fishing, and those lessons are incorporated into her life. Keet is a natural storyteller whose voice is silenced as the n ...more
Aug 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
Fun language and story. The protagonist reminded me a little of my 11-year-old daughter. I loved the character development throughout the book. The poetic forms were nice and geeky as well. Loved it. I believe that many adults need to read this as it demonstrates how new situations can change children. I kept rereading passages and found many levels where I could make meaning and establ[ish connections. Simply beautiful.
Fred Pollock
Keet has moved away from everything she knew and the place where she felt comfortable. Now she has to deal with being "other" in a new place and try to make new friends. In this new place she is laughed at for sounding different and retreats from really being herself. Told in poem form, this is a really good story of a young girl's learning self-confidence and how being authentic will make you the kind of friends you want. Very enjoyable read.
I'd like to give 4.5 so I'm rounding up. Well done novel-in-verse! Quiet but strong, cute but poignant. Heartfelt and relatable. Would also make fantastic mentor text for writing in general, writing poetry, finding your own voice in your writing, writing personal narrative. Loved the relationship within her loving and lovely family.
This novel in verse is about a girl named Keet who loves to talk and tell stories. That changes when her family moves from Alabama to Illinois and people make fun of her accent. Grandpa encourages her to find the story-teller within again.

Sweet story about families and friendships. Seems about right for 3rd-6th grade.
Cindy Nordstrom
Apr 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I used this as a class read aloud for 5th graders while exploring the genre for "Novels in Verse". I wanted a new book that the students had not read before. It was a great one for making inferences and talking about the importance of picking just the right words for poetry. It was very appropriate for this age group and building friendships at this age.
Kerstin Daynes
May 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Fantastic. There is something about these books written in prose...authors have to focus so deliberately on their words that it becomes so artful and mesmerizing. The cadence, the language of this comes together to describe familiar emotions and paints a vivid picture. It truly is beautiful!
Ms. Heres
May 30, 2017 rated it really liked it
Keet and her family have had to move north from Alabama to be near her grandfather. The kids in her new school make fun of her accent so she "learns" to keep her voice, and her stories, to herself. The girl who once talked almost constantly and had an abundance of stories to share is now quietly trying to deal with all the changes in her life.
Mar 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
Novel in a variety of verses; Keet moves to a different part of the country and kids make fun of her Alabama accent; She had previously been a non-stop talker and storyteller. She found solace in fishing with her Grandpa and, eventually made a friend in Allegra, a great speller and student whom other students made fun of because of her chipped tooth.
Ellie McDonough
Oct 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book!!!! This was definitely one of my favorites! The writing style I was totally not expecting. For those of you who want to read this book, its like a poem-ish type of book. I dont really know how to explain it....but this book was outstanding! ( Just a small warning, some people may not like the type of writing style. But at least TRY IT!) ...more
Lovely story of girl trying to fit in after a move even though her accent makes others laugh. She loves being closer to her grandpa, and makes a new friend w “Allie-gator” Allegra, but struggles to find the storyfish that previously would fill her with stories. Love the poetic formats which will also make it more accessible to reluctant readers.
Emma Milliken
Nov 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
This book was truly compelling. It was so beautiful and I can't believe that I was never told about this book! The fact that it was told in poetry made it even better. I also really loved the message behind the text and how it is so important for so many people to find their voice.
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Harrington’s writing reflects her beginnings in rural Alabama and her life in the Midwest. A former librarian and professional storyteller, Harrington now teaches creative writing in the Department of English at the University of Illinois.

“She says getting lost in a book
is a magic trick,
which means that I'm a wizard.”
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