New York Times Bestseller

Poor Doreen: A Fishy Tale

A traveling fish on her unlikely, hilarious journey upstream

by Sally Lloyd-Jones, illustrated by Alexandra Boiger

Poor Doreen is an Ample Roundy Fish by the name of… Miss Doreen Randolph-Potts. Poor Doreen is on a mission. To visit her second cousin twice removed who’s just had 157 babies.

Poor Doreen spies what she thinks is a yummy dragonfly–but it is actually bait. Poor Doreen is lifted out of the water on a fishing pole. Luckily, Poor Doreen is a bit clueless about the dire situation. Kids will love being in on the joke and joining in with the panicky warnings from the narrator. Until, at last, our oblivious heroine Poor Doreen arrives, in a roundabout way, at her final destination.

Awards for Poor Doreen

Kirkus StarredBank Street Book of the YearCCBC Choices 2015 WSRA Picture This! Free Poor Doreen coloring pages to download

Reviews of Poor Doreen

Ignorance equals bliss in this amusing, cleverly executed tale.” – Kirkus Starred Review

Poor Doreen: One of the best picture books ever… A charming and humorous picture book that just begs to be read aloud.” National Book Examiner


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“… testament to the power of positive thinking.” Publishers Weekly

“Miss Doreen Randolph-Potts, a Southern-Belle-Ample-Roundy-Fish stylishly decked out in a bright red kerchief and carrying a red umbrella, sets off upstream to visit her second cousin once removed who has just had 157 babies.

Unfortunately, “Poor Doreen” is about to encounter a tasty-looking dragonfly, a fisherman, and a hungry heron. It is a good thing Doreen has such a sunny personality. Even as the narrator warns that this may be the unluckiest day of Doreen’s life, the cheerful fish is thanking the fisherman for her pleasant “outing,” politely chatting with the heron (while clasped in his bill), and thoroughly enjoying her experience “flying” (or falling) through the air, back into the stream from which she came.

What a story to share with her cousin! Lloyd-Jones’ text is alliterative and well-paced, building anticipation, creating moments of suspense, and drawing the audience into a playful contradiction between the narrator’s (and audience’s) concern for Doreen’s clearly perilous situation and her blissful obliviousness to any danger. Additionally, Lloyd-Jones seamlessly incorporates teaching moments, describing the “big round O for OPEN” of Doreen’s mouth, and “great big P for PROUD” of the heron’s chest.

Boiger’s watercolor, gouache, and pencil illustrations perfectly match the text, foreshadowing the arrival of Doreen’s predators, matching the bodies of each character to the letters in the text, and following Doreen up, down, and around as she moves from the stream to the bucket to the sky. Boiger’s red accents against blue waterscapes highlight Doreen, making her easy to identify even in large spreads, and her gradual shift to a sunset color palette provides a gentle close to a rousing tale. As a read aloud for the early elementary ages, this lively fish tale is sure to be a hit.”Children’s Literature

“A clueless fish owes her escape from a fisherman and a great blue heron to sheer dumb luck in this “fishy tale.” A little round fish in a kerchief, Miss Doreen Randolph-Potts wends her way upstream to visit her cousin when she spies a dragonfly “darting, / dancing deliciously above her.” Thinking she’s found a “lovely snack,” Doreen unknowingly swallows the fisherman’s lure as he rapidly reels her in and tosses her into his bucket. Gleefully assuming she’s on an “outing,” Doreen’s equally oblivious when the heron snaps her up and flies off. Thanking the heron for escorting her on her journey, Doreen asks if he’s an egret, prompting him to open his beak to correct her. Suddenly “plunging and plummeting” through the air, unflappable Doreen’s thrilled to be “FLYING” and eventually falls back into the stream and swims on, unaware of her close calls.

Laced with panicky warnings from the narrator alerting Doreen to her impending mortal danger, the alliterative text tracks her perilous journey in humorous detail while its typographic placement visually follows her up, down and across double-page spreads. Rendered in pencil, watercolor, gouache and colored pencil, the fluid illustrations effectively rely on light and arresting perspectives to highlight Doreen’s precarious situations. Ignorance equals bliss in this amusing, cleverly executed tale.”Kirkus Reviews

Doreen, a fish with bad luck and an optimistic temperament, is on the way to visit her cousin. When Doreen spies a delicious dragonfly, she snaps it up, not realizing it’s a lure and that she’s just been caught by a fisherman. One potentially catastrophic event after another happens to her, but with her serene attitude, she sees nothing but good: being put in the fisherman’s pail is a chance for her to rest, and after being snapped up by a great blue heron, Doreen thanks him for accompanying her on her trip.

A wary narrator relays the story of the fish’s perilous journey to see her relative and is the voice of reason, and doom, alongside Doreen’s obliviousness. Repetition of phrases, and the humorous and cautionary asides make this perfect for reading aloud. Delightful illustrations in watercolor, gouache, and colored pencil show a smiling small blue and pink polka-dotted fish wearing a red babushka and sporting a red umbrella. A charming tale with an endearing—and enduring—heroine. School Library Journal

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