Book Review | “The Walking Fish” by Rachelle Burk & Kopel Burk A new #MGLit novel speaking directly to girls & boys who love science and the curious realms they can endeavour to explore!

Posted Tuesday, 5 May, 2015 by jorielov , , 0 Comments

Ruminations & Impressions Book Review Banner created by Jorie in Canva. Photo Credit: Unsplash Public Domain Photographer Sergey Zolkin.

Acquired Book By:

I was selected to review “The Walking Fish” by JKS Communications: A Literary Publicity Firm. JKS is the first publicity firm I started working with when I launched Jorie Loves A Story in August, 2013. I am honoured to continue to work with them now as a 2nd Year Book Blogger. I received my complimentary copy of The Walking Fish direct from JKS Communications in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

Inspired to Read:

When I was first approached to read The Walking Fish it nearly felt like kismet to find science re-entering my life because I was the kind of girl who grew up in her local Science Center and ached for Summer because it meant she could spend more hours at the Center absorbing science through hands-on learning opportunities and field trips which were not available during regular school sessions. The beauty for me growing up at the Science Center is being in control of the ‘academics’ and ‘choices’ of which fields of study I could focus on without the added stress of worrying about ‘grades or homework’. You could simply go to the Center, enjoy your days, and get caught up in the joy of science without the hassles that regular school provides.

I thrived in this environment because having a curious mind was encouraging to the teachers, who loved it when we asked questions that challenged them in return to provide a plausible response. It was a mecca for science geeks – girls and boys together, whilst having a living ecosystem of sorts at our fingertips. We even had a resident boa constrictor I helped save when I was the only kid there who noticed Monty wasn’t in his cage but rather the latch on his environment was ‘unhooked’. We had resident tarantulas, an iguana I adopted, various snakes I gave a wide birth (outside of Monty, I was not keen on snakes!), and a lovely outdoor garden filled with footpath tiles and hidden nooks where you could enjoy the flowers.

I have been wanting to dig back into my readings of science, not just as an adult but to seek out titles that would stimulate a fascination for children within the realms of Children’s Lit. This branch of literature is quite dear to me, and I was thankful to be considered for a title I hope will inspire younger readers to get as excited as I had about science and the possibilities therein!

Rainbow Digital Clip Art Washi Tape made by The Paper Pegasus. Purchased on Etsy by Jorie and used with permission.

Book Review | “The Walking Fish” by Rachelle Burk & Kopel Burk A new #MGLit novel speaking directly to girls & boys who love science and the curious realms they can endeavour to explore!The Walking Fish
by Kopel Burk, Rachelle Burk
Source: Publicist via JKS Communications

A humorous, exciting tale of an ordinary girl who makes an extraordinary scientific discovery—a blind fish that walks.

When seventh-grader Alexis catches an unusual fish that looks like a living fossil, she sets off a frenzied scientific hunt for more of its kind. Alexis and her friend Darshan join the hunt, snorkeling, sounding the depths of Glacial Lake, even observing from a helicopter and exploring a cave. All the while, they fight to keep the selfish Dr. Mertz from claiming the discovery all for himself. When Alexis follows one final hunch, she risks her life and almost loses her friend. This is a scientific adventure not to be missed.

With great settings and vivid characters, lively and at times hilarious, this book presents the adventure of science in a way that’s sure to appeal to girls and boys in grades 4-7.

Genres: Children's Literature, Science, Middle Grade

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 978-0990782933

Published by Tumblehome Learning

on 1st April, 2015

Format: Paperback Edition

Pages: 192

Jorie Loves A Story Cuppa Book Love Awards Badge created by Jorie in Canva. Coffee and Tea Clip Art Set purchased on Etsy; made by rachelwhitetoo.Published by: Tumblehome Learning (@TumblehomeLearn)

Available Formats: Trade Paperback, Hardback

Converse via: #WalkingFishBook & #RachelleBurk

OR  #MGFiction, #MGLit, #KidsLit or #MiddleGrade

About Kopel Burk

Kopel Burk is a retired physician who writes, sculpts, and remains active on the bioethics committee at his hospital. He conceived the idea for Walking Fish over 40 years ago, when he told early versions of the story to his young children, nieces and nephews. His co-author is one of those nieces. At 86, this is his first book.

About Rachelle Burk

Rachelle Burk is a children’s author, social worker, clown, and storyteller. She writes fiction and nonfiction for children, including books, magazine pieces, and poetry. Rachelle scuba dives, explores caves, and volunteers on a rescue squad. With her background as a children’s entertainer, she’s a hit in classroom visits.

I can definitely relate to the opening:

My own grandfather introduced me to fishing by giving me my first tackle box, fishing pole, and all the lovelies that go with it including the weights, and other odd bits which could outfit a hobbyist but for a thirteen year old girl was a maze of curiosity unto it’s own! My shining moment was catching a bluegill in my neighbourhood lake whilst my ill-fated attempts at fishing down by the river were only enjoyed for the relaxation of ‘being still’ whilst casting out my line. I remember I had to bike my way to the riverbed, through the rough and clearly ‘untamed’ forest, before it opened up into this wide space of cypress trees and brackish waters. Mind you, if I had at the time known how quickly a water moccasin or a gator could jump up and out of that murky water, I might not have fancied the sport nearly as much as I had!

I had to dig deep to find the courage to bait my own hooks, as my friend would only humour me ‘so far’ before it was clearly my ‘turn’ at getting the worms out of the dirt they prized inside of the Styrofoam cup! He lost patience in the ‘wait and see’ what arrives at the end of your line; I fancied the intrigue of which kinds of bait drew different fish! For starters, some preferred shiny bobbles, others wanted nothing fancy than a bit of a weight and a nab of bread. Most of course ate my worms and wiggled their way on out further against the currents away from me, but happy for the free ‘snack’.

Whichever way you slice it, I loved fishing. Still do to this day, except for the fact I haven’t baited a hook in knee high of two decades (at least!)! I think the best part though is the sounds of nature whilst your waiting on the fish, and the observations you can make of the natural environ of where your casting your luck. It’s not exclusively about the catch, but rather the experience of ‘being there’ and enjoying the moment for what it gives you.

I can definitely relate to the opening on the level my grandfather encouraged me into fishing, outfitted me, and at some point, yes, even I, learnt how to bait the line, cast it out, and patiently reel it back in! The trickiest part for me was unhooking the lone fish I may or may not have caught! Now, that’s true ‘ick!’ if you find their scales a bit slippery and the hook a bit too comfy being a part of them!

My Review of The Walking Fish:

Alexis certainly has a unique life anchoured by a science teacher for a Dad and a gourmet curious Mum who likes to whip up delectable delights even if her daughter would prefer a more ‘regular’ faire for a seventh grader rising into eighth grade! I had to nearly giggle about what her Mum packed in the cooler as it was meant to hold them over until she made them dinner, the first night they arrived at their holiday cabin hugged next to Glacier Lake. A lake of which put a dim light on Alexis’s plans to ferret out fish for frying as it’s one particular lake that cannot host a fish much less a school! A knowing smile wicked over me as I realised she was going to attempt it anyway or at the very least catch a heaping pile of frogs to drive her Mum a bit batty!

Darshan is Alexis’s artistic best bud, who keeps trying to render drawings as realistically as he can, even if he’s a bit misguided when it comes to capturing the ‘better moments’ of people’s lives. The entire time we’re inside the Mishra’s house, I started craving my favourite Indian foods! Darshan is one of the year rounders, whereas Alexis can only come for Summers; the two love to take off having epic adventures, but this year, it’s a bit different as Alexis is bent on proving to her father and grandfather there is a fish in that big old Glacier Lake! Now, the interesting bit to sort out, how will Darshan take the news?

I positively loved how the walking fish starts to take on a life of it’s own on the pages – at the top of the Chapter headings you can see it ‘swim walking’ round but then, on page 31 oh dear heavens, its practically LIFE SIZE! At which time I was so caught up in it’s cuteness, I had forgotten I was half afraid of it when I watched a cousin called a ‘mudskipper’ prior to finishing the opening chapters!

I love a good mystery – and when it comes to the ecological and the geological merging together into harmonic symphony of symbiosis, truly what could be more wicked brilliant!? I liked how the science behind how the fish looks in appearance is brought up to be due to where it dwells whilst it’s not floundering around Glacier Lake’s newly minted ‘pond’ by the heavy rains. It is a bit tongue and cheek how the science is routed through the novel itself, and I think this is the best part of it’s charm! You get wrapped up in the goings-on long before you realise your absorbing historical data about the life of fish and the physicality of where they can potentially live due to the characteristics of their species!

My, oh, my I’ve missed reading science-based stories and theories! Of course, another part of me couldn’t help but think about “Hoot”, “Dolphin Tale 1 & 2”, and “Zeus & Roxanne” motion pictures because it brings out the lighter side to positive reflections of man helping nature and how nature humbles man.

I especially was captured by the inside glimpse of University life, and the steps needed to ensure the safety of the fish itself – based on it’s known environment and the environment in which they need to create for it in the lab. It’s a special process truly, not only to identity a potentially new species but to learn how to maintain it’s vitality without subtracting it’s innate ability to thrive. I can see how scientists would lose sleep if they did not understand how to help the specimen they’ve found.

And, then came the hunt for the fish’s family and a further explanation on how it was able to survive in formidable hostile climate for his kin. I get so caught up in the search I oft forget where I am (outside of the book), as it’s quite keenly exciting to follow inside the footsteps of Alexis and Darshan as they navigate not only the pursuit of the fish’s origins but to side step the negative bits of being attached to a University’s department Chair. A bloke who doesn’t quite understand how to include children who discover things that expand the University’s scope. When they entered the cave, I happily remembered my Mum’s memories of Mammoth Cave as much as my spelunking attempts that never quite worked out the way I had hoped on a much smaller scale except to say, I know exactly how to ‘erase’ red clay out of a brand new pair of black denim jeans!

I am truly hoping the hinting of a sequel is going to take shape inside the authors’ minds because this book would make an excellent ‘series’ of stories for Middle Graders! I positively cannot express how much fun it was to be a part of the action, and even if I was a bit miffed at the parents here or there, in the end, everything was meant to be just as it was written. A very heart-warming story about a girl, an unusual fish, and the unity of bridging the gap between man and nature.

Why I appreciated this style of story-telling for Middle Grade readers:

The Burks make a great writing team because they know how to instantly take you back inside your own childhood or keep you nestled inside the childhood your currently living; either way, your in for a special treat because they kept the innocence alive in Alexis. They gave her a nice grounding of curiosity tipped with determination and a spirit of ingenuity. I love finding this because I think oft-times in Children’s Lit characters around the Middle Grade years start to reflect ‘older’ children’s views, opinions, or even act a bit out of step with their own characters. I appreciate seeing children reflect the age they are, and the growing curve in which they are allowed to achieve.

Loved the diversity knitted inside the story as effortlessly as talking about two mutually happy friends who only get to see other for a short period of time each year! When the Mishra’s were introduced, it felt like old home week to me, as Alexis warmly hugged Mrs Mishra and happily greeted Mr Mishra who was in a motorised wheelchair. I even appreciated seeing how trauma is dealt with and re-directed through positive therapy such as the koi pond and then the vegetable garden. It is a beautiful layering of narrative that teaches children without having them realise they’ve encountered a life lesson. To me these are the best stories we can find for children to read, because it encourages their empathy to increase and their world to expand if they do not encounter composites of the characters in their everyday lives. They start to see the world a bit differently and thereby, expand their understanding.

Rainbow Digital Clip Art Washi Tape made by The Paper Pegasus. Purchased on Etsy by Jorie and used with permission.

This book review is courtesy of:

JKS Communications: A Literary Publicity Firm

JKS Communications Reviewer BadgeRainbow Digital Clip Art Washi Tape made by The Paper Pegasus. Purchased on Etsy by Jorie and used with permission.

Be sure to hop on Twitter to discover other readers finding The Walking Fish!

Rainbow Digital Clip Art Washi Tape made by The Paper Pegasus. Purchased on Etsy by Jorie and used with permission.

Comment Box Banner made by Jorie in Canva.

Science is palpable when it becomes tangible.

The best way to envision science is to knit yourself inside a story where the science melts away and the story left behind is one that gives your heart a smile.

– Jorie of Jorie Loves A Story

Rainbow Digital Clip Art Washi Tape made by The Paper Pegasus. Purchased on Etsy by Jorie and used with permission.

Mudskippers Search for A Meal via Nature on PBS

Inspired to Share: I am unsure about you, but when I first learnt of a ‘walking fish’ I was quite a bit curious what it might honestly look like in real life. I am not sure if I was quite prepared for the gentle soul greeting me in this video or the way in which this little creature lives whilst interacting with it’s muddy environment — as at first, it was a bit unnerving as I do get a bit shy meeting ‘new’ wild animals, but by the end of the short excerpt of this longer programme, how could you not come to smile seeing the little guy or girl?

I should also mention this is not quite the ‘same fish’ as featured in the story, as the ‘the walking fish’ of the novel has four feet not two and ironically ‘no eyes’. Still. I love discovering new things, don’t you!? Never would have thought ‘any fish!’ could walk on land! Even though I studied the age of dinosaurs! lol

{SOURCES: Book Cover Art for “The Walking Fish”, Author Biography, Author Photograph, Book Synopsis, the Press Release, and reviewer badge were provided by JKS Communications and used with permission. Ruminations & Impressions Book Review Banner created by Jorie in Canva. Photo Credit: Unsplash Public Domain Photographer Sergey Zolkin. Rainbow Digital Clip Art Washi Tape made by The Paper Pegasus. Purchased on Etsy by Jorie and used with permission. Tweets are embedded due to codes provided by Twitter. Comment Box banner made by Jorie in Canva. The documentary excerpt for “Mudskippers” via Nature on PBS had either URL share links or coding which made it possible to embed this media portal to this post, and I thank them for the opportunity to share more about this novel by way of the creature inside it. Jorie Loves A Story Cuppa Book Love Awards Badge created by Jorie in Canva. Coffee and Tea Clip Art Set purchased on Etsy; made by rachelwhitetoo.}

Copyright © Jorie Loves A Story, 2015.

I tweet as I read, kindly share if inspired:

About jorielov

I am self-educated through local libraries and alternative education opportunities. I am a writer by trade and I cured a ten-year writer’s block by the discovery of Nanowrimo in November 2008. The event changed my life by re-establishing my muse and solidifying my path. Five years later whilst exploring the bookish blogosphere I decided to become a book blogger. I am a champion of wordsmiths who evoke a visceral experience in narrative. I write comprehensive book showcases electing to get into the heart of my reading observations. I dance through genres seeking literary enlightenment and enchantment. Starting in Autumn 2013 I became a blog book tour hostess featuring books and authors. I joined The Classics Club in January 2014 to seek out appreciators of the timeless works of literature whose breadth of scope and voice resonate with us all.

"I write my heart out and own my writing after it has spilt out of the pen." - self quote (Jorie of Jorie Loves A Story)

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Posted Tuesday, 5 May, 2015 by jorielov in #JorieLovesIndies, 21st Century, Aquaculture, Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blog Tour Host, Book Review (non-blog tour), Bookish Films, Chefs and Sous Chefs, Childhood Friendship, Children's Literature, Clever Turns of Phrase, Coming-Of Age, Compassion & Acceptance of Differences, Cookery, Debut Author, Debut Novel, Documentary on Topic or Subject, Ecology, Environmental Activism, Environmental Conscience, Environmental Science, Equality In Literature, Father-Daughter Relationships, Fishing, GeoPhysical History, Green-Minded Social Awareness, Hard Science Fiction, History, Indie Author, JKS Communications: Literary Publicity Firm, Jorie Loves A Story Cuppa Book Love Awards, Juvenile Fiction, Literature of India, Meteorology, Middle Grade Novel, Modern Day, Mother-Daughter Relationships, Multi-cultural Characters and/or Honest Representations of Ethnicity, Philosophical Intuitiveness, Realistic Fiction, Science, Science Fiction, Social Change, Sustainability & Ecological Preservation, The Natural World

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