Wednesday, February 18, 2015

DAY 5: Papa's Mechanical Fish by Candace Fleming (Dialogue)

The Valentine Vision:
Read, Study, and Share 
14 picture books in 14 days
You guys are rocking it out with the Valentine Vision! We are definitely reading, studying, and sharing all kinds of books with the world this week! Book Love ROCKS!!!

ATTENTION ALL VISITORS WHO LEAVE COMMENTS - There will be a Commenter's Award as well. Every comment will earn you a chance to win a special book. Damon Dean of Seven Acre Sky has graciously donated this book to the challenge this year. This is an effort to allow those who don't blog or who didn't get to sign up this year, to have a chance to participate and win a prize. So, get to hopping to those blogs. This is a blog hop event, after all.

If you can't get this link to work at the end of your post, then just add my link for today's post instead.

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Welcome to DAY 5. Today's lesson is on...DIALOGUE.
Papa's Mechanical Fish 
by Candace Fleming

Title: Papa's Mechanical Fish
Author: Candace Fleming
Illustrator: Boris Kulikov
Publisher: Farrar Straus Giroux Books for Young Readers
Year: 2013
Word Count: 1031
Top 10 Element: Dialogue

I absolutely LOVE this book. It is SO much fun to read! At 1,031 words long, it doesn't seem long at all. That's how awesome this book is. It has dialogue, character, plot, conflict (okay, EVERY book has character, plot, and conflict...), word play, patterns, pacing, and beginnings/endings. But the dialogue is what helps to bring it all together. So dialogue is the strength here.

In the summer of 1851, with encouragement and ideas provided by his family, an inventor builds a working submarine and takes his family for a ride. Includes notes about Lodner Phillips, the real inventor on whom the story is based.
Spreads 1 and 2 have great voice and word play.

First spread of Papa's Mechanical Fish by Candace Fleming via itunes

Dialogue doesn't enter until spread 3.

Spread 3 of Papa's Mechanical Fish by Candace Fleming

But not once has Papa invented anything that works perfectly. "I will someday," Papa tells me. "All I need is a fantastic idea." But fantastic ideas are not easy to come by. 
So Papa twiddles his tools and pulls his hair. He racks his brain, sighs, and stares until one day he throws down his screwdriver. "Enough thinking!" he cries. "Who wants to go fishing?"

And even then, it's not much. On spread 4, the PATTERN of dialogue is established.
"I do!" I holler.
"Me, too," says my brother, Cyril.
"Don't forget me," adds our sister Mary.
"My daa-daa!" squeals the baby, Wilhelmina.
"Woof!" barks our bulldog, Rex.
"I'm so glad I brought along these poles," says Mama.
On spread 5, they're all sitting there fishing at the pier and the main character, Virena, asks her papa, "Have you ever wondered what it's like to be a fish?"
"A fish?" he mutters. "A fish?"
"Uh-oh," squeals the baby.
It's even in the dialogue (how clever) that we learn the MC's name, Virena. And here's spread 7.

We keep our fingers crossed.
"Goodbye, Papa." We wave.
"Farewell, family." He waves back. (notice the alliteration)
Then the Whitefish is launched.
It almost worked. Virena asks, "Papa, how do fish move through the water?" It is this dialogue that propels the next course of action, the next plot point. And the answers give Papa ideas.
"With their tails?" says Cyril.
"With their fins?" adds Mary.
"Fishy go!" squeals the baby.
"Woof!" barks Rex.
"I'm so glad I brought along this towel," says Mama.
Spread 10 (notice the word play of onomatopoeia as a refrain):
Clink! Clankety-bang! Thump-whirrrr! "Behold the Whitefish II."
In spread 11, it almost worked. Again with the suggestive dialogue to get Papa to thinking again. Whitefish III. Almost. "How do fish know where they're going?" He goes on to build the Whitefish IV as well.

Oh, I could go on and on with this book. I could write a separate blog post for EACH of its AMAZING ELEMENTS. Alas, I will leave it at that. You MUST read this one to truly get the full experience!!!

Here's the link to add your own DAY 6 blog posts...


  1. I will definitely have to check this one out. Our 4th graders do US History and the dialogue, especially the mom's one-off lines, would really match their sense of humor.

  2. Okay, I'm hooked! Ready to read this one. The dialogue pattern you pointed out is wonderful!

  3. Wow! I'm hooked too. Papa's Mechanical Fish is entertaining.

  4. This sounds awesome! Not only is the biography a cool story, but it sounds like the author really brings the whole family to life. And I love those illustrations, too! Thanks for sharing, Christie.

  5. Love this book! Read it last year, and the story is treated so well by the author with the use of dialogue. Conversation drives the plot! Like fins drive fish forward. Great book, great review Christie.

  6. Thanks, everyone. Glad you're excited about it.

  7. Thanks for all the illustrations too, they really add so much to the story!

  8. Am I the only person who hadn't heard of Lodner Phillips before? Well, I guess many people will be learning about him when they read this book. The story, dialogue, and word play all sound good. Onomatopoeia is always a treat.

  9. I had not heard of him glad you put this one up for us, Christie! And I absolutely love how you include inner pages of the picture book...seeing is believing. ) :)

  10. Yes! This is a fabulous book! It's one my 11-year-old still loves to read. And that says A LOT! :D

  11. Look forward to sharing with my grandsons! :D


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