ELFISH: The King of Rockfish takes the story of American rock-legend Elvis Presley and transposes it onto the traditional children’s book version of a hero’s journey, following a young, hopeful creature’s adventure to achieve his dreams.
Readers are immediately presented with an emcee–complete with microphone–who introduces us to Elfish. He explains, in rhymes and puns, the story of his rise to music fame. Author Billy Simpson, Jr., makes good use of the narrator to cue readers into the fact that they’re meeting a star in the making, and he makes Elfish a sympathetic character by introducing him as a young fish who “didn’t always make the big clams.”
Young readers are sure to get invested in Elfish, and they watch his ascent and wait for the big moment of his breakthrough fame with anticipation. The moment itself could have a greater impact, and the slightly stunted excitement could simply be a lack of variety in the pictures. While the lead-up is that Elfish’s world is getting ready to change dramatically, readers find themselves in a very similar place when he becomes famous.
The pictures throughout the book are simple but appealing, with plenty of color. The ocean is drawn as a source of endless wonder and the a sweet-faced, fish protagonist with Elvis hair will surely draw some chuckles from young readers and their parents. In terms of text, some of the words may be above the reading level of the target audience, and some of the jokes are more for the adults reading aloud – but the language has a nice rhythm that fits with the musical, swingy, light-hearted subject matter. This is a wacky story, and it’s embraced in the text. It’s the kind of book a music-loving parent could share with a young child who likes a hero story and a laugh.
ELFISH: The King of Rockfish is a kooky and charming re-framing of a star’s journey, and though it could use a little more variety in its imagery, it stands a good chance of entertaining kids (and their parents) who read it.
~Madeline Dennis-Yates for IndieReader