The Day I Swapped My Dad for Two Goldfish - Thao Lam
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The Day I Swapped My Dad for Two Goldfish

The Day I Swapped My Dad for Two Goldfish

The Day I Swapped My Dad for Two Goldfish

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My dad is weird. Besides claiming to be from Mars, my dad has a freezer full of dead goldfishes. Okay, “full” might be an exaggeration; there’s maybe half a dozen or so. My dad stopped raising goldfish after they all died. Instead of flushing them down the toilet or throwing them out with the trash, he wrapped them up in saran wrap and stored them among all the other frozen food. His plan was to wait until the ground thawed before burying them in the garden, but with our long winters my dad soon forgot about his frozen fishies. I am sure the neighborhood cats will be happy when my dad gets around to giving his goldfish a proper burial. Keep reading…

Possibly the oddest couple to write a children’s book, to my mind, are the creators of The Sandman, a weird, horror graphic novel series; author Neil Gaiman and illustrator Dave McKean have proven that there isn’t an audience they can’t win over. The Day I Swapped My Dad for Two Goldfish is hilarious. “What if you wanted your best friend’s two goldfish so much that you’d swap anything for them, even your father?” This question is explored in the book as we follow a boy and his sister on their adventure to retrieve their dad after their mother finds out they swapped him for goldfish.

I love the innocence of the two main characters; swapping your father for goldfish seems logical and brilliant. What kid hasn’t thought of swapping a parent (or both) at one time or another? I love the dialogue, in particular between the siblings. I get this mental picture of the little one following her brother around like a shadow and him dodging her every step, just from the way she pipes in after his every word. Like his little conscience, always ready with an “I told you so.”

Each page is accompanied by images, collaged and inked, which are almost overwhelmingly filled with details. McKean has amazing ability to create different moods in his work, by using deep rich colours and layers of textures. Formatted like a graphic novel, the story contains panels, dialogue boxes and hand-written text. I think the hand-written text gives credence to the boy’s first-hand account of the story, as though he penned this story himself. The illustrations really bring the story to a different level of maturity and it feels more like a picture book for adults, a delight for older readers.

The Day I Swapped My Dad for Two Goldfish, a children’s book reviewed by Thao Lam


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Author Neil Gaiman

Neil Gaiman’s literary biography is a mile long and would impress the pants off of anybody. Writing for readers of all ages and in different genres for comics, books, film, journalism, television, and even song lyrics, there is very little he hasn’t done or hasn’t won an award for. The man is super-duper talented and, judging from his bibliography, a super-duper hard worker.

Too busy telling stories about others, Neil Gaiman’s personal bio is very short: “Born and raised in England. He has somehow reached his forties and still tends to need a haircut.” If anyone out there has any info, please share.

To find out more about Neil Gaiman, please visit his website: www.neilgaiman.com

Illustrator Dave McKean

Like his collaborator, Dave McKean is artistically driven. He has created hundreds of illustration and photographs for books, CD covers and comic books. There might not much about the artist, but I highly suggest googling his name anyway as your search will result in plenty of spectacular illustrations by McKean. If anyone out there has any info, please share.

To see more of Dave McKean’s artwork, please visit his website: www.davemckean.com and www.mckean-art.co.uk

Publisher HarperCollins (August 31, 2004)

ISBN-10 0060587016

ISBN-13 978-0060587017