Cynthia C Huijgens’ A FISH CALLED ANDROMEDA is an illustrated children’s book that tackles the universal themes of loss and discovery. The story centers on Zuki, a little girl who has her heart set on getting a pet fish. Citing the impracticality of adding another member to the family, Zuki’s parents rebuke her request. Undeterred, Zuki decides to take matters into her own hands and constructs her very own pet fish. Equal parts paper, glitter, and ingenuity, Zuki’s fish is a sight to behold. Sadly, when Zuki takes her creation outside, it is swept away by the wind. Crestfallen, Zuki patiently waits to no avail for her fish to return. Fortunately, Mr. Humphries steps in, and with the aid of his high-powered telescope, he shows Zuki that her fish is now swimming amongst the stars.
Pairing a clever plot with a healthy dose of whimsy, Huijgens’ narrative is the driving force behind A FISH CALLED ANDROMEDA. Still, the book is an impressive introduction for illustrator/animator Yusuke Watanabe. Simply put, Watanabe’s work is breathtaking. Rendering heavily-stylized characters with vibrant, watercolor backgrounds, the L.A.-based artist transforms Huijgens’ captivating narrative into an immersive experience. It’s also worth noting that the book’s visual layout is a perfect example of how to properly frame a caption within an illustration. A picture may be worth a thousand words, but children’s titles often lean too heavily on one or the other. Huijgens and Watanabe, on the other hand, demonstrate the synergistic potential of images and words. Watanabe has a professional background in animation, but A FISH CALLED ANDROMEDA marks his first foray into book illustration. Given the quality of his work, there’s little doubt that future releases are on the horizon. Hopefully, A FISH CALLED ANDROMEDA marks the beginning of an ongoing relationship between Huijgens and Watanabe.
Intended for children ages four to eight, A FISH CALLED ANDROMEDA is a notable example of a children’s book that manages to do more than merely entertain. With a background in education and a handful of well-received children’s titles under her belt, Huijgens masterfully weaves an all-important lesson (essentially turning those proverbial lemons into lemonade) into Zuki’s narrative. And by exploring universal themes such as loss, imagination, and discovery, Huijgens ensures that readers of all ages will connect with some aspect of her story. Above all else, A FISH CALLED ANDROMEDA is an uplifting, fun read that speaks to the inner child within us all.
A FISH CALLED ANDROMEDA, by Cynthia C Huijgens, is a magical children’s book that pairs stunning imagery (by Yusuke Watanabe) with an empathetic character who learns an inspirational life lesson.
~James Weiskittel for IndieReader