Deborah Diesen
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Cover image of The Pout-Pout Fish

The Pout-Pout Fish
by Deborah Diesen, illustrated by Dan Hanna

The Pout-Pout Fish is a fun, rhyming picture book about a gloomy fish who discovers that being glum isn't really his destiny.  Bright ocean colors, playful language, and engaging characters make the story perfect for sharing at home or at school.  Children of all ages love Mr. Fish's transformation from a pout-pout fish to a kiss-kiss fish, and the story of The Pout-Pout Fish is all-but-guaranteed to turn a cranky child's pout (or even a grown-up's pout!) upside down.


If you'll be reading The Pout-Pout Fishat a school, library, or bookstore story time, you might consider pairing the book with other picture books with similar themes.  I've started some lists, and would welcome your suggestions for other titles to include.

For a fish or ocean theme, try one of these along with The Pout-Pout Fish:
For a friendship theme, consider:
For a grouchy theme, or for an exploring-emotions/feelings lesson, perhaps select from:
For a rhyming books theme, consider:


If you're using The Pout-Pout Fish for a story time and would like some activity sheets to go along with it, I have several available for free download:  a coloring page; a fingerplay rhyme; a word find; a word ladder; a crossword puzzle; a very hard word find; and word codes.  Each document should be a single page in length, except for the coloring page.  For the coloring page, either print only the first page (for a single-sided coloring page) or print the document as a doublesided sheet, to make a foldable booklet (a mini book).  If you are unable to open the documents, or if you need them in another format, please contact me.

Dan Hanna, the illustrator for
The Pout-Pout Fish, has made a great foldable fortune teller (also known as a "cootie catcher") featuring Mr. Fish.  I have two version of the cootie-catcher file available for download.  Which one you use will depend on what your browser uses to open and read the file.  Start by clicking here for the smaller format version.  Then, before you print it, do a page preview.  The cootie catcher should fit onto one page and be approximately 8 inches by 8 inches.  If it looks about right, you're all set.  Go ahead and print.  But, if the link above took you to a cootie catcher that looked tiny (about an inch-and-a-half square), then click here for a much larger version.  (Caution:  This larger file is 1.62 MB, which may take 15 minutes or more on dial-up.)  If you can print the cootie-catcher on a color printer, it will look best, but you can also print it in black and white -- it just won't be quite as colorful.

For detailed cootie-catcher folding instructions, click here.


If you'll be using The Pout-Pout Fish in the classroom, consider these curriculum connections:

Language Arts
The Pout-Pout Fish is a rhyming book, so students can look for rhyming words within the story, and then think about other rhyming words for those rhymes.  Or they can look for groups of words that start with the same letter or contain the same vowel.  Students at higher grade levels can use the story as the basis for writing exercises, such as retelling the story in their own words, imagining the same storyline in a different setting, or exploring what might happen after the book's end.

The characters in the story can be used for counting exercises, or as the basis for fun addition, subtraction, or multiplication practice.  Students can count the number of pouts in the book, or graph the number of gloomy words per page.  Try leg multiplication:   If a clam has zero legs, how many legs do three clams have?  If an octopus has eight legs, how many legs do three octopi have?

Though talking sea creatures are not typically found in ocean ecosystems, the art in The Pout-Pout Fish creates a detailed and believable ocean habitat.  Students can be assigned to study a particular lifeform (clam, jellyfish, squid, octopus), to identify plants or water features found in the art, or to try to classify Mr. Fish or the mysterious silver fish.

Students can create their own versions of the creatures in The Pout-Pout Fish in two or three dimensions.  At higher grade levels, students can analyze the art in the book.  What is the style of the art?  Which colors are used most frequently?  How does the illustrator convey Mr. Fish's emotions and his transformation?

Other Ideas
The recurring refrain of The Pout-Pout Fish lends itself to audience participation, and students can discuss and practice ways to perform this refrain or to act out Mr. Fish's gloominess, his "blubs," and his transformation.  The other characters -- Ms. Clam, Mr. Jelly, Mrs. Squid, Mr. Eight, and the mysterious silver fish -- can also be brought to life, through playacting or through music.  For instance, Ms. Clam's shape might suggest a pair of cymbals, and the silver fish's mysterious nature might be effectively expressed with the sound of a rainstick.


Dan Hanna, the illustrator for The Pout-Pout Fish, has made a really neat origami fortune teller (commonly known as a "cootie catcher") featuring Mr. Fish.  To download it, click here for the JPEG version.  (NOTE:  The file is 1.62 MB, which won't bother high-speed folks but may take 15 minutes or more on dial-up.)

If you can print it on a color printer, it will look best, but you can also print it in black and white.

(I state on the Kids Area of my web site and should probably repeat here:  please remember that the cootie-catcher doesn't really tell fortunes or predict the future.  It is, however, a lot of fun.  Enjoy it!)


I can't say enough good things about Dan Hanna.  Not only did he create the wonderful art that brought Mr. Fish and his friends to life in The Pout-Pout Fish, he has also created additional delightful Pout-Pout materials, including the cootie-catcher describe above.  But that's not all!

Recently he posted to his web site some short animated Pout-Pout films.  To view them, head on over to the Books section of his site and choose "Pout Fish Short Movies" from the Pout list.  I especially like the film "Famous Pouts."  (You can also view a non-animated historical pouts page.)

If you You Tube, here are the You Tube links:

Another link on Dan's site will lead you to a store where you can purchase Pout-Pout merchandise such as T-shirts, bibs, and coffeemugs.

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