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A million fish-- more or less /

During an outing on the mysterious Bayou Clapateaux, Hugh Thomas catches a million fish. Full description

Main Author:
Other Authors: Schutzer, Dena,
Format: Book
Language: English
Published: Knopf, 1992
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Illus. in full color. In an original yarn of the Louisiana bayou, McKissack honors the tradition of bragging about the one that got away. Hugh Thomas hears that strange things happen on the Bayou Clapateaux, but he's skeptical--until he invents a fish story of his own. "McKissack understands the elements of a good story, and includes just enough detail to make it work. Uninhibited splashes of vivid colors fill the pages and elicit a joyous emotional response to the dynamic human figures. A radiant debut for a talented illustrator."--(starred) School Library Journal.  

Review by Booklist Review

Ages 4-8. In a joyful story about storytelling, a young boy learns to swap tall tales that reveal the strangeness of his bayou home. Hugh Thomas is amazed when Papa-Daddy and Elder Abbajon tell him a dramatic, cumulative story of treasure and a monster snake and a turkey that weighed 500 pounds . . . more or less. When the two ol' swampers row away into the mist, Hugh Thomas has his own wild experiences. He catches three fish and then close to a million more. On the way home, he loses the fish in encounters with the granpere of all the alligators and with the bandit leader of a raccoon army who skips rope with a 20-foot snake. Though Hugh Thomas loses his fish (all but the original three), he returns home to tell his story. Comic and deliciously sinister, Schutzer's expressionist, double-spread paintings swirl with movement and thick color, showing Hugh Thomas' larger-than-life encounters with the monsters around him. McKissack tells it in the oral tradition ("The air grew thick, hovering over the swamp like a big smothering hand. Then the still came, a terrible kind of silence with its own sound"). Rooted in the words and landscape of Louisiana's Bayou Clapateaux, this celebrates that we all live in "a mighty peculiar place." (Reviewed Jan 1, 1992)067980692XHazel Rochman

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

"Told with verve and sly wit," said PW in a starred review, "this exuberant bayou tale admirably captures the captivating regional cadences and comedy of [an] intrepid fisher boy's adventures.... A splendid collaboration." Ages 5-9. (June) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Review by School Library Journal Review

PreS-Gr 2-- When a black youngster, Hugh Thomas, goes fishing one morning, Papa-Daddy and Elder Abbajon row up like specters out of the mist. They delight and amaze the boy with tall tales, told in the vernacular, of giant turkeys and snakes, mysterious lamps, and strange happenings on the bayou. When they leave, Hugh Thomas embarks on an outlandish adventure of his own. He catches a million fish (more or less), divides his catch with a grand-pere alligator, again with a pack of pirate raccoons, crows, and finally some trickster cats. When he finally reaches Papa-Daddy and the Elder's houseboat, he has only three fish left, and a tale that surpasses theirs. McKissack understands the elements of good story, and includes just enough detail to make it work. Hugh Thomas accepts fantastic animals with ``an uncertain spirit,'' but tackles the problems they present to him, taking only a moment to wonder at their bizarre emergence from the swamp. He lives in an imaginative world that combines exotic realities of the bayou and slips almost imperceptibly into a fantasy that will bemuse readers as much as it does the boy. The vital, action-filled paintings seem naive at first glance. However, viewers will quickly see that each seemingly careless brush stroke works toward a harmoniously integrated whole. Uninhibited splashes of vivid colors highlight forms, fill the pages, and elicit a joyous emotional response to the dynamic human figures. A radiant debut for a talented illustrator. --Ruth Semrau, Lovejoy School, Allen, TX (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Patricia C. McKissack was born in Smyrna, Tennessee on August 9, 1944. She received a bachelor's degree in English from Tennessee State University in 1964 and a master's degree in early childhood literature and media programming from Webster University in 1975. After college, she worked as a junior high school English teacher and a children's book editor at Concordia Publishing.

Since the 1980's, she and her husband Frederick L. McKissack have written over 100 books together. Most of their titles are biographies with a strong focus on African-American themes for young readers. Their early 1990s biography series, Great African Americans included volumes on Frederick Douglass, Marian Anderson, and Paul Robeson. Their other works included Black Hands, White Sails: The Story of African-American Whalers and Days of Jubilee: The End of Slavery in the United States. Over their 30 years of writing together, the couple won many awards including the C.S. Lewis Silver Medal, a Newbery Honor, nine Coretta Scott King Author and Honor awards, the Jane Addams Peace Award, and the NAACP Image Award for Sojourner Truth: Ain't I a Woman?. In 1998, they received the Coretta Scott King-Virginia Hamilton Award for Lifetime Achievement.

She also writes fiction on her own. Her book included Flossie and the Fox, Stitchin' and Pullin': A Gee's Bend Quilt, A Friendship for Today, and Let's Clap, Jump, Sing and Shout; Dance, Spin and Turn It Out! She won the Newberry Honor Book Award and the King Author Award for The Dark Thirty: Southern Tales of the Supernatural in 1993 and the Caldecott Medal for Mirandy and Brother Wind. She dead of cardio-respiratory arrest on April 7, 2017 at the age of 72.

(Bowker Author Biography)

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