The Day I Swapped my Dad for Two Goldfish is a hilarious picture book full of fun and relatable family dynamics, like a brother secretly putting dirt down the back of his sister’s neck or a son wanting to have more interaction with his preoccupied father.
This hilarious picture book uses mixed media images to tell the story of a trade which escalates to swapping the little boy’s boring, newspaper-reading father for two goldfish that his friend Nathan has. Nathan drives a hard bargain as he won’t consider Clownie, an old spaceship, or even a penny whistle as a fair trade.
Author Neil Gaiman paints a story so realistic that it feels nothing like a fantasy title. That is, of course, despite the implausibility of it. Any child can relate to wanting something so badly that they would be willing to swap just about anything for it. In this story, this becomes the reality, while his father is still reading his newspaper, oblivious to the world around him.
This is a great title to snuggle up with and read on a cold Shanghai winter day. You can easily lose track of time as this story captivates you and your child (ideal for ages 6 and up). Parents will chuckle at the ridiculousness of the situations and the subtle humor sprinkled throughout, some of which has a more mature meaning that younger readers may miss.
This tale was inspired by Gaiman’s own child’s wish for a goldfish instead of his dad after being told to go to bed one evening. He wrote it for his children to enjoy and so that readers can feel that he has put his whole heart into writing this children’s story.
The award-winning illustrator Dave McKean has collaborated with Gaiman on three other children’s books, The Wolves in the Walls, Crazy Hair and Mirrormask. These are beautifully crafted titles that I highly recommend if you enjoyed reading this one. Additionally, Gaiman is the rare kind of author that can write for any age group. Middle schoolers will love The Graveyard Book and Coraline while adults will enjoy Trigger Warning: Short Fictions And Disturbances and American Gods.
Kendra Perkins is Coordinator for the Shanghai Librarians Network and Ambassador of China for the International Librarian Network. Find her at www.TheInspiredLibrarian.com.