A Salmon for Simon.
Betty Waterton. Illustrated by Ann Blades.
Preschool - grade 2 / Ages 3 - 7.
"I'm going to stay and fish for salmon he [Simon] said. And he did.
He sat on a rock and fished.
But he didn't even see a salmon.
He saw red and purple starfish sticking to the rocks. He saw small green crabs scuttling among the seaweed. He saw flat white sand dollars lying on the wet sand. He saw pink sea anemones waving, pale jellyfish floating, and shiners swimming.
But he didn't see a salmon.
"Are they ever hard to catch," thought Simon. He decided to stop fishing, maybe forever.
It has been almost twenty years since A Salmon for Simon was first published - would that we had all aged so well! It came on the scene when Canadian children's books were just starting to blossom. Finally, Canadian children could read books about Canadian children, with Canadian place names and Canadian expressions. That could have been the reason that this book had a place in Canadian children's lit - it could have been, but it isn't.
This book has a place in Canadian children's literature because it is a classic - a book whose text and illustrations are timeless; a book that has as much meaning twenty (or fifty) years later as it had on the day it was published. Betty Waterton's text is simple, yet creative, never talking down to its young audience. Likewise, Ann Blades' watercolour illustrations seem plain, yet they are layered with texture and a few well chosen details to make the words come alive.
Simon is a small boy living on Canada's west coast. The story tells of the first summer that he is old enough to have his own fishing pole and of Simon's vain efforts to catch a salmon. When September arrives and he is still luckless Simon is ready to give up but fate intervenes and Simon does get a salmon though it comes from a passing eagle rather than the end of his fishing line. Simon keeps the salmon alive in a pool of water that has collected where he and his sisters have been digging for clams. Ingeniously, the little boy works hard to make sure that the beautiful fish returns to the freedom of the sea.
This book is about dreams and reality. It is gentle and poignant and wise. It is a classic. Buy it for your library. Buy it for your grandchildren, for if we manage to hold people to a respect for the salmon of the Canadian west coast, then their grandchildren will enjoy this book as much as all the children who have gone before them did.
Sharon McCue is a former library consultant for the Cree Shcool Board of James Bay.
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Copyright © 1997 the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.
The Manitoba Library Association
TABLE OF CONTENTS FOR THIS ISSUE - May 9, 1997.
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