Little Black Fish
by Behrangi, Samad; Mesghali, Farshid (ILT); Rassi, Azita (TRN)

This is a story for all ages, speaking of the struggles that come in the persuit of knowledge, but also of the rewards that can make daring to be different wonderful.

Samad Behrangi was an Azeri teacher born in Tabriz. He collected folk tales and wrote tales for children in Azeri Turkish and Persian. He was one of Iran's most influential authors and teachers. His tragically early death, rumored to have been ordered by the Iranian government, has given him a legendary status.Farshid Mesghali is an Iranian animator, graphic designer, illustrator, animator and writer. In 1974, he received the international Hans Christian Andersen Medal for his "lasting contribution" as a children's illustrator.

Little Black Fish wants to explore beyond the small stream that is his home, but his mother and their neighbors discourage him and even make fun of his curiosity and openness to wonder. In fact, one fish before him has been killed for daring to befriend a snail. But supported by other young fish, Little Black Fish strikes off into the river, meeting its varied denizens in the manner of a folktale. As Little Black Fish swims, a lizard gives him a small knife and some advice on how to escape a pelican. Little Black Fish stops to watch the moon and a doe escaping from a hunter and to talk to a group of tiny fish who warn him about the open sea. But Little Black Fish keeps going, and as he nears the sea, he is snatched up, first by a malicious pelican and then by a seabird, in whose gullet he meets another small fish. Told in a frame story by a grandmother fish to her 12,000 grandchildren, Little Black Fish's adventure teaches them the importance of unity in the face of struggle and integrity and independence even if it means risking everything. The text-heavy pages are decorated with bold, black- and red-dominated prints. First published in Farsi in 1968 and banned in pre-revolutionary Iran, Behrangi and Mesghali's fable is an ode to a past filled with struggles for liberation and an inspiration for the many battles ahead. (Picture book. 5-12) Copyright Kirkus 2019 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.

As the nights grew longer and the year turned towards winter once more, an old fish settled herself to tell a story. She was telling the story to her twelve thousand grandchildren fishes. It was an exciting story full of danger and some sadness, but it was a story that also carried wisdom. The old fish wanted her grandchildren to learn from Little Black Fish's story without them having to go into the dangers and sadness of life themselves.There was once a Little Black Fish who lived with his mother in a short length of stream between one waterfall and another. The stream changed with the weather, but otherwise it was much the same day after day: running water, and other fish, all swimming up and down and around. They weren't very nice or very clever fish. '"Not you again!" they said as they met each other again and again and again. '"Well who did you expect to meet? You're not likely to meet anybody new here, are you!"At night the stream went dark, except when the moon was bright in the sky. Little Black Fish saw flickers of moonlight through the thick moss roof of the stone house he shared with his mother. He longed to go out into the night time stream to see the moon properly. The moon in the sky must see so much, thought Little Black Fish. She must be able to see what is beyond our stream. Little Black Fish tried to push the moss away so that he could talk to the moon, and ask questions, but... "Put that moss back!" said his mother. "Don't you go out into the night and get killed, my child. Of all the ten thousand eggs I've laid, you're the only one to hatch and survive. I'm not letting any harm come to you!"So Little Black Fish just had to wonder what might be beyond the stream, because it seemed that he would never be able to find out.Little Black Fish was thinking so much about where the water that flowed into their stream came from, and where it flowed out to, that he wasn't swimming properly alongside his mother on their daily swims up and down and around. '"Keep up!" said his mother. "What's the matter with you, child? Come on, we must swim up and down and around, just as the other fishes do or they'll start to think that there's something wrong with us.We don't want to be different." There was something wrong with Little Black Fish. He ached with longing to go beyond the stream, and to discover for himself what might be there.One night he couldn't sleep for wondering. So, next morning, he said to his mother, "I have decided something, but you won't like it." '"Then don't tell it to me!" said his mother. "You silly child! Come along and swim with the others before they think that you are odd."'"But I am not going to swim with them, or with you, any more," said the Little Black Fish. "I must swim beyond the stream, and explore. I want to see if the stream goes on and on, or whether it comes to an end. Don't you want to know that too?"

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