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Reviewed by Rosie Malezer for Readers' Favorite
A Fish in Foreign Waters is a children’s book written in rhyme by Laura Caputo-Wickham and illustrated by Pamela Goodman. When a young fish, Rosie Ray, is forced to move to foreign waters after her father is offered a huge promotion in Indigo Bay, Rosie is worried at the change she is about to face. After the move, Rosie’s new surroundings are wonderful, but she is unable to understand what the local fish in Indigo Bay are saying as their language is so strange. Rosie decides to read books and studies the new language so that she can speak it too. While learning the new language, Rosie is very embarrassed because she makes mistakes when she speaks, as does her father. She also finds herself mocked because of the strange food she eats, compared to the other fish. Rosie’s mother decides to throw a party for Rosie’s birthday and the invitations are sent out; however, Rosie worries nobody will come because people think she is so strange. Little does Rosie know that a huge surprise is about to come knocking at the door.
Having travelled a similar road to young Rosie Ray, I was excited to read about the young fish who struggles with a new language and culture due to a move. The shock to the system is huge, as is the embarrassment of making mistakes when talking in the new language. My friends in Finland were absolutely horrified that I enjoyed eating kangaroo burgers, but when two cultures collide, it creates something quite spectacular in that the cultures seem to absorb each other. The struggles that Rosie faces in A Fish in Foreign Waters are captured beautifully, and the adventurous tale will appeal to young audiences who find themselves having to move to a new country where the culture, cuisine, and language are nothing like they were at home. I enjoyed the concept behind this book, as it removes some of the fear of culture shock. Eight years ago, I spoke only two languages (my tribal language and Australian English), but now am fluent in five (three spoken, two signed). Laura Caputo-Wickham has shown that diving into a new language can be fun, exciting, with extraordinary benefits in the long run.