The Fish Girl

Fiskepigen

An IBBY Honour nominee - an absolutely stunning graphic novel on the highly current subject of flooding and climate change - aimed at reading aloud for 10+ or reading alone for 12+.

Søren Jessen is an award-winning Danish author/illustrator of children's books and graphic novels.

The Fish Girl

Fiskepigen

An IBBY Honour nominee - an absolutely stunning graphic novel on the highly current subject of flooding and climate change - aimed at reading aloud for 10+ or reading alone for 12+.

Søren Jessen is an award-winning Danish author/illustrator of children's books and graphic novels.

Synopsis

In a house on a hilltop, the autistic boy, Frede, and his older sister are home alone. A violent storm has hit their area and all land around them has been washed away by flooding, leaving their hilltop house on a small island in the sea. They are without electricity and light, waiting for their parents to find them.

Fred’s sister does everything in her power to create an illusion that everything is normal – to protect her fragile younger brother. She plays with dinosaurs, makes a cozy camp underneath the dining table, bakes pancakes on the gas fire and tells a fairy tale of a girl who lives in the sea.

At the same time, she is worried and scared. Where are their parents? Will the water rise further? And how does she make the old generator in the outhouse work, so that she can create light and signal to the helicopter above that they are alive and waiting?

The book provides a beautiful and moving point of departure for a dialogue on climate change and on the importance of caring for each other when the going gets tough. There is a strong sense of hope and community in the story and the stunning illustrations provide a complete extra layer of meaning for this pearl of a story. 

Check out the IBBY Honour List Online Exhibition here.

Reviews

"An eerie, intensely well-wrought and -written novel (…) the way that Søren Jessen mixes text and images is simultaneously elegant and fiercely anchoring you in the present." – (Børn & Bøger (Children and Books magazine))

"The Fish Girl is an outstandingly beautiful publication, in which the illustrations – on land, in the ocean and in the air – contribute to a unique experience." – (Bogbotten.dk)

"There is a quivering feeling of eeriness over the story where problems with failing mechanics, climate and disabilities – almost unbearably – merge." – (Four hearts in Politiken)

Personal note from the author

You are experimenting with the graphic novel form or illustrated short novels. What attracts you about this genre?

“I like to find new ways to integrate the text in the drawings (not the other way around). I also like to explore the way you illustrate a text. In my book, The Fish Girl, I have written a text that isn’t 1:1 with the illustrations. The narrator is unreliable, she retains information, doesn’t tell the whole truth. The illustrations are working against the text, because they show the things the narrator does not want to talk about and therefore isn’t mentioned in the text. This trick makes the artwork contribute to the story in a new way that expands on the text rather than “just” illustrating it and it pulls the narration in a completely different direction. In the best picture books, the text cannot stand alone. It simply doesn’t make sense without the artwork. This is the case with The Fish Girl.”

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The Fish Girl
View as PDF
Original Language: Danish
Original Publisher: Gyldendal
Published: March, 2020
116 pages
Category: Children's Books
Sub-category: Graphic Novels
Genre: Realism
Available material: English sample translation

Territories Handled

World except: Chinese Complex, Chinese Simplified