Rain Fish

Illustrated by Lois Ehlert
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About The Book

Get to know the “rain fish” that come to life during rainstorms in this gorgeous exploration of nature with vibrant collage artwork from the Caldecott Honor–winning illustrator of Chicka Chicka Boom Boom.

When blue sky turns gray and it rains all day, sometimes rain fish come out and play.
They swim among discards and debris. Do you see them, too? Or is it just me?


Through lyrical text and her incomparable mixed-media collage illustrations, Lois Ehlert introduces readers to “rain fish”—the varied, colorful, and unique little collections of materials that float along on streams of rain water during storms. From a scrap of newspaper with a seashell eye and feather smile to a piece of cardboard with an orange peel eye and a leaf for a fin, Ehlert’s rain fish come in all shapes and sizes.

Complete with an author’s note explaining how Ehlert collected the found materials she used to make the book over the course of a year, Rain Fish is a spirited celebration of imagination, creativity, and observing the world in your own way—and it invites you to discover your own rain fish.

About The Author

Photograph © Lillian Schultz

Lois Ehlert has created numerous inventive, celebrated, and bestselling picture books, including Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, Holey Moley, The Scraps Book, Mice, Ten Little Caterpillars, RRRalph, Lots of Spots, Boo to You!, Leaf Man, Waiting for Wings, Planting a Rainbow, Growing Vegetable Soup, and Color Zoo, which received a Caldecott Honor. She lives in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

About The Illustrator

Photograph © Lillian Schultz

Lois Ehlert has created numerous inventive, celebrated, and bestselling picture books, including Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, Holey Moley, The Scraps Book, Mice, Ten Little Caterpillars, RRRalph, Lots of Spots, Boo to You!, Leaf Man, Waiting for Wings, Planting a Rainbow, Growing Vegetable Soup, and Color Zoo, which received a Caldecott Honor. She lives in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Product Details

  • Publisher: Beach Lane Books (April 2016)
  • Length: 40 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781481461528
  • Grades: P - 3
  • Ages: 4 - 8
  • Lexile ® AD340L

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Raves and Reviews

PreS-Gr 3–Found art supplies formsuggestions of fish shapes while the text lyrically provides directions on howto make “rain fish” in this imaginative work by the master collage artist.Ehlert describes how the objects “hide in debris/until rain sets them free,”thereby explaining how she finds materials. The ephemeral nature of the creationsis emphasized by the instruction, “But you better look fast,/because rain fishdon’t last.” The objects are found by chance, and the art made from them isopen to interpretation. Children are invited to look beyond the items’ originaluses and explore what they see in the collage assortments. Vivid colors, variedtextures, and expressive language inspire further contemplation. As anexploration of creativity and inventiveness, the book serves as a challenge toreaders. What could they find to make their own rain fish? VERDICT An excellent addition to most collections, andespecially valuable to libraries with budding found object artists.

– School Library Journal *STARRED REVIEW*, February 2016

A day of rain brings strange creatures into Ehlert’s world. Formed by wet bits of discarded paper, fall leaves, old socks, feathers, and other debris, they combine in elongated shapes that appear quite fishlike, often with a bottle cap or other round object for the eye. In Ehlert's imagination, these "rain fish" begin to take on lives of their own. “They love to splash in puddles / and dance upon concrete. / They gather in the gutters / and then swish on down the street.” The colloquial, rhyming text provides just enough guidance, drawing readers through the book while allowing them to enjoy the details as well as the overall effect of each picture. Ehlert has perfected her style of collage, with bold forms and a skillful, distinctive use of color, texture, and composition. Underscoring the book’s usefulness as a springboard to creative activities, an appended double-page spread features some of the found objects that became the illustrations’ rain fish
and provides brief identifiers of box top, concert ticket, fish bobber, leaf, twig, orange peel, paper, parking ticket, sand dollar, etc. With a smooth, flowing text and fish images that show up beautifully from a distance, this unusual picture book is a great read-aloud choice for a rainy day.

– Booklist *STARRED*, February 15, 2016

A short rhyming tale mergesnature and debris to create art from remains of rainy days. When the day turnsgray and rain starts to fall, "that's when rain fish come out andplay." From found materials (fallen leaves and feathers and items clearlyplucked from the recycling bucket and waste stream), images of fishes arecreated and depicted at play in the flowing gutters. Through Ehlert'sdistinctive collage illustrations and playful text, readers follow the lifecycle of rain fishes and are encouraged to wonder where these fishes will gonext. The book invites children to look closely at the waste they discard,prompting them to consider how orange peels, ticket stubs, cardboard, bottlecaps, cans, and other garbage make their way to the stream—both the waste streamand Ehlert's fanciful rain-fed stream—and the role of humans in their creation.The collage illustrations of found materials are vivid, although they need tobe seen from a distance for readers to truly appreciate them and see the rainfishes, making this ideal for storytime or classroom use. A list of images ofdiscards and debris that were used for the illustrations is appended and shouldbe useful for craft activities after a read-aloud of the book. This picturebook and its lyrical text will make readers see fishes in unexpected places.(author's note) (Picture book. 4-7)

– Kirkus Reviews, 2/15/16

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