Children 9-12, Fantasy, Picture Book

BOOK REVIEW: The Day I Swapped My Dad for Two Goldfish, by Neil Gaiman and Dean McKean

Released: August 31, 2004 (HarperCollins)
Source: Library
Buy Now From: Amazon

Written by the “New York Times” bestselling team that created “Coraline,” this deluxe edition of a cult classic is a rollicking tale of a boy who trades his dad for his best friend’s goldfish.

My Thoughts (May Contain Spoilers)

When I first started reading this book, I really wasn’t sure what to expect. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love the world of Neil Gaiman and I knew that this was more of a children’s book, but I still had my doubts.

Having recently read The Graveyard Book, another book for children by Neil Gaiman, I was surprised at how short TDISMDFTG was. At first the pictures seemed very haphazard and annoying, but after a few pages in I felt entranced by what Dean McKean was creating with his illustrations. I loved how the goldfish were shown as real goldfish, and not a drawing of goldfish. That, paired with the almost-chicken-scratch drawings that appear throughout, and the beautiful drawings of the ideas of man, the illustrations actually weaved together to create a great atmosphere.

The story turned out to be very charming. As stated at the end of the book, Gaiman wrote TDISMDFTG after his son exclaimed that he wished, instead of his father, that he had goldfish. Don’t we all wish we could swap a loved one for something else? You know, in those moments of anger where we don’t really mean it? Kind of like in Home Alone where Kevin wishes that he didn’t have a family and then he wakes up without one. Yeah, totally like that.

The main character wishes his father was as interesting as his friend Nathan’s new goldfish and decides to swap Nathan for just that – his dad. After all, all he does is sit around and read the newspaper.

A very quick read, one that took me about 10 minutes to get through, TDISMDFTG is full of mystery as the young boy and his sister search for the whereabouts of their dad (since his mom was NOT impressed at the arrangement!) and it’s full of humour – especially when they actually find their father. The banter between the boy and his sister is quite amusing and quite funny.

The Day I Swapped My Dad for Two Goldfish is a memorable book that all ages can appreciate. Highly recommended!


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My home is where my books are. - Ellen Thompson

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