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Fish Girl

3.70  ·  Rating details ·  1,929 ratings  ·  432 reviews
Who is Fish Girl?
What is Fish Girl?

She lives in a tank in a boardwalk aquarium. She is the main attraction, though visitors never get more than a glimpse of her.

She has a tail. She can't walk. She can't speak.

But she can make friends with Livia, an ordinary girl, and yearn for a life that includes yoga and pizza. She can grow stronger and braver. With determination, a
Hardcover, 186 pages
Published March 7th 2017 by Clarion Books
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Average rating 3.70  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,929 ratings  ·  432 reviews

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*This is my 1000th Goodreads review! Whoohoo!*

There is a mermaid imprisoned inside a house by a self-proclaimed Zeus. Every day, she plays with the visitors who come in the hope of getting a glimpse of her.

The mermaid does not realize something is wrong with the way she is living her childhood—does she even have one?—until a girl her age opens her eyes to her own situation.

This is a beautiful story. The narration is in short supply and simple… Not exactly poetic, though it is fitting for a
I’m not sure how I really feel about this book. I think I need to throw up a spoiler warning to speak about it so:


It’s an interesting tale. I believe this is David’s first graphic novel and he certainly pulled it off well.

We have the example of the little mermaid who was a mermaid that wants to be a human. There is precedent. The funny thing is that most children seem to want to be mermaids or something else. This Fish Girl is a mermaid and she doesn’t seem to desire to be human,
David Schaafsma
Jun 14, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: gn-children
Fish Girl joins the talents of popular novelist Donna Jo Napoli and popular children’s picture book maker David Weisner. Neither had done graphic novels before, but clearly Napoli is as established a storyteller as Weisner is an illustrator. I think it’s okay on a kind of basic level, with a pretty bland theme of empowerment for the Fish Girl, who finally gets to stand (literally) on her own. But I have to say it has some creepy elements to it, and maybe it has a good point to make for middle ...more
Rebecca Shelton
Review of an ARC.

I'm not sure how appropriate this subject matter is for middle grade readers. Just because the author sugarcoats it into a nice mermaid story doesn't hide the fact that this is about abduction and abuse. On the other hand, it may be a good thing. To show how strong and resilient the human (haha) spirit is. I don't know though, I was pretty angry most of the way through.

Update 12-16-16:
I've had a day to think about this book and my reaction to it. It's not often that a book
Charles Lint
May 31, 2017 rated it really liked it
I would have given this five stars but the prose just doesn't sing the way the art does. It's a touch too simplistic. But oh the art is gorgeous. And the narrative hits all the right notes.
Mar 14, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: gn-comics
I'm a huge fan of Napoli, but this did nothing for me and it didn't feel anything like the rest of her fairy tale work, which is what I was anticipating. Weisner's art felt completely flat and emotionless to me. What a disappointment.
Mar 24, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: comics, fantasy
The art is gorgeous, and I love the idea of a mermaid with an octopus for a best friend. But the story just fell flat for me.
Erin Cataldi
Apr 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2017
As a child I was obsessed with David Wiesner's gorgeously illustrated children's novels (Jumanji, The Polar Express, Zathura, etc.) and as a teenager I was completely taken with Donna Jo Napoli's young adult books, especially since the majority of them were fairy tell retellings. I re-read Sirena (a book about a mermaid coincidentally) soo many times in middle school. When I saw that these two literary power houses had teamed up to write a graphic novel I knew I HAD TO READ IT! Fish Girl is by n ...more
Mar 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
From a young age, I've been fascinated by mermaids. Even though one of my earliest nightmares was about Ursula, I still found those fish people enthralling...and I still do. I even willingly watched the entire series of H2O: Just Add Water; all it took was a television grid listing to make me want to check it out.

So, as you'd expect, something like this is right up my alley. Did I enjoy it? Yes; it felt like a Disney Channel Original Movie. The artwork was great, and the story was touching.
I LOVE David Wiesner's picturebooks and Donna Jo Napoli's fairy tale retellings, but this graphic novel is nothing like their previous works (unfortunately).

Wiesner's artwork in Fish Girl is mostly flat and rather boring:

...with the exception of a few spreads, which hint at the illustrator's full potential:

Although the theme of abduction and Stockholm syndrome did capture my attention, the story in Fish Girl is rather simplistic and seems rushed, the dialogue (and monologues) feels unnatural,
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
It's about TIME Wiesner did a proper graphic novel, since he's been making them as picture books for the past twenty-odd years. I loved this so much--the singular location kept the story simple and allowed the creators more time and space to develop the characters, Mira in particular--she really is the whole story. And she is enough for the whole story, too. Her growth from naivete to empowerment is exciting to witness, and should provide inspiration to many young boys and girls who are ...more
Colona Public Library
I've been thinking about this book even after I finished reading it. This is a story about a mermaid who is the secret main attraction in a aquarium, Her mystery is what keeps the costumers coming back to try and find her. Her closest friend and guardian is an octopus, until a girl spots her and says she is beautiful and makes friends with her quickly. The mermaids friend starts to question why she is treated the way she is and wonders how Neptune does his act. The mermaid has only ever know ...more
Nancy Kotkin
Story: 4 stars
Art: 5 stars

Fish Girl is a middle grade graphic novel about a mermaid who is held captive in a boardwalk sideshow by the owner, a former fisherman who impersonates Neptune the King of the Seas to entertain paying audiences. But Fish Girl is the main attraction of the aquarium, and she believes her captor really is Neptune the God. At least at first.

But Fish Girl is clever and observant in her search for truth, freedom, and humanity. She has help along the way by an octopus, who has
Mar 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Oh I loved this! I adore David Wiesner's illustrations, and have just come off of reading aloud many of his books, including my favorites-Flotsam and Sector 7- to a few classes. His incredible sea creatures and octopi take center stage here, along with a mermaid. And speaking of mermaids-Donna Jo Napoli is also an author I like.
I was charmed by this imaginative story and I loved the pictures. Wiesner and Napoli were an inspired pairing and perfect for this book. I'm looking forward to sharing it
Mar 04, 2017 rated it it was ok
Pretty big let down for me. The writing and dialogue felt unnatural & the story wasn't super interesting/slightly disturbing. I went in with high hopes (Donna Jo Napoli!!) and came out just meh. It's just okay.
Dylan Teut
Nov 09, 2016 rated it it was amazing
A must read. A grand slam graphic novel.
Feb 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
Huge thank you to Raincoast for this ARC!

I'm going to be completely honest: I wasn't sure I was going to like Fish Girl. In fact, when I received it in the mail I did that dreaded thing you sometimes shouldn't do: judge a book by it's cover. I wasn't sure I was going to like the artwork, and the story sounded merely all right. I was colourfully surprised by how much I enjoyed Fish Girl

However, I say this with an air of caution: Fish Girl is a misleading book. While it's aimed at middle grade
La Coccinelle
Nov 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is a nicely illustrated graphic novel with a sort of fairy tale flair. At first glance, one might think that The Little Mermaid would be the obvious tie-in. But I actually saw more similarities with Disney's Tangled, a "Rapunzel" story. Poor Fish Girl (she doesn't even have a proper name at the beginning of the story) has a bad case of Stockholm Syndrome. She's kept in a fanciful aquarium on a boardwalk in an old house that's been converted to display all sorts of marine life. Neptune is ...more
Apr 21, 2017 rated it liked it
I really liked this! It was almost like "A Little Mermaid", but more realistic and happier than the original fairy tale. I couldn't guess what would happen next in the book, so I liked that part of the story. I don't really read graphic novels, except I did this time for a book challenge. I think I will try to read more graphic novels in the future because reading this was a really enjoyable experience.

The only reason why this rating is a 3 star is because it just doesn't compare to some other
Jun 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
A book about what it is to be free.

It was exceptionally well-timed in my life, also. I found it deeply comforting on an allegorical level. (warning to sis, might be triggering for related reasons).

And the art is beautiful and sensitive.
Abby Johnson
I love the visuals of a house converted into an aquarium. This is a palatable mermaid story that will please legions of young mermaid fans and works for a wide range of ages. If the story's a little slight, that's okay; kids will still check this one out.
Nov 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: people who enjoy reading graphic novels
This is an entertaining and dramatic tale of a young mermaid on display at a seaside attraction.
Edward Sullivan
Great illustrations, of course, and an absorbing story.
Sep 10, 2018 rated it liked it
"Mermaid" discovers who she really is and how she's been exploited all her life.
Allison Davis
Mar 03, 2017 rated it liked it
Fish girl is a fantasy story about a mermaid called Fish Girl, (Mira), who is trapped inside of an aquarium and her only friend is an octopus. Soon she meets a human named Livia who inspires Mira to seek for her own independence outside of her boardwalk aquarium. As the two grow a friendship, Mira seeks for her own freedom with many challenges along the way. This book is aimed towards intermediate grade levels, while the book could still be read by slower readers, some words are more advanced, ...more
Laura Harrison
Feb 18, 2017 rated it liked it
No doubt this graphic novel by a great author and a Caldecott award winning illustrator will get a lot of praise. I wasn't so thrilled with it. Be warned it is definitely not a feel good story. A mermaid and her fish friends are kept in a tank at an amusement park. The mermaid can only show bits of herself to the audience. "Neptune" as he calls himself runs the exhibit. He is pretty darn creepy. Fish Girl kind of thinks of him as a father/God figure. But he is abusive and won't tell her stories ...more
Oct 30, 2016 rated it liked it
This review and others posted over at my blog.

This is a light, middle-grade graphic novel focusing on Mira’s journey for the truth and independence. I love Donna Jo Napoli’s work (Zel anyone!? That’s one of my favorite middle-grade novels) and mermaids, so I was excited to receive a copy of Fish Girl.

Art style is a big factor for me when it comes to graphic novels (part of the reason why I don’t purchase too many of them) and unfortunately, Wiesner’s style wasn’t for me (in Fish Girl anyway. I
Kristine Hansen
Apr 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I opened this book and immediately felt a sense of wonder that I haven't felt in a long time regarding a book. I hope that you feel that too as you look at the first pages and discover what this story is all about.

Here author and artist have created a world where a house (what a clever amazing idea) as an aquarium, with one particular resident who is very shy and unsure. What I love is how Fish Girl finds herself in the course of the book, becoming more confident, more herself. This is a coming
Ms. Yingling
Mar 10, 2017 rated it liked it
Public Library Copy

Fish Girl lives in a beach side attraction run by "King Neptune" who has a show that includes him causing the waves to roil, but also has kitschy t shirts. Fish Girl is part of the show, but she must only offer glimpses of herself to keep the public intrigued. When a girl visits the aquarium and strikes up a conversation with Fish Girl, she starts to wonder about life outside her tank, and she starts to investigate the museum. eventually wandering out of it when she realizes
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During David Wiesner's formative years, the last images he saw before closing his eyes at night were the books, rockets, elephant heads, clocks, and magnifying glasses that decorated the wallpaper of his room. Perhaps it was this decor which awakened his creativity and gave it the dreamlike, imaginative quality so often found in his work.

As a child growing up in suburban New Jersey, Wiesner
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