The Man Who Caught Fish is an original story with an age-old moral: greed can be disastrous. Walter Lyon Krudop's gorgeous picture book evokes ancient Thailand and tells the tale of a king who insists upon taking more than his due.

A stranger comes to a village, and lifts fish after fish out of the water. Instead of collecting them for himself, he hands one to whomever is nearby. The amazed and grateful villagers gather to accept their fish from the stranger, whose only words are One person, one fish. A haughty king arrives, decked out in jewels and finery. He expects this stranger to offer him a whole basketful of fish, since even the humblest peasants received one apiece. But the king, too, is told One person, one fish by the mysterious stranger.

The king's greed won't let the issue rest. After bribing and jailing the stranger to no avail, he discovers through trickery the stranger's enchanted secret. Krudop's story is simple and eloquent, like the stranger's words. The Man Who Caught Fish offers a great chance to talk about morality and symbolism with children. It's right to be grateful, like the villagers, for an unexpected gift. But why is it wrong for the king to demand more, since he is, after all the king? Are some gifts for everyone, such that not even a king can take more than a poor person? Laughter, love, friendship? Is the king happy with the result when he tries to sneak extra fish? Can deceit bring happiness or bad outcomes? Krudop illustrates his book with fabulous, expressive paintings. The stranger's gaze is serene and intelligent; the king looks spoiled and sneaky. The king bursts onto the faded coastal scene like a radiant peacock, demanding attention and respect. The stranger blends in with the subdued colors of the coast and sky, the villagers, and the dungeon walls. Leaving out proper names and referring to characters by their roles enhances the fairytale quality of Krudop's book. Visually lavish and intelligently simple, The Man Who Caught Fish is a pleasure for both children and adults.

Julie Anderson is the mother of two.

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