Title: Moonfish
Written and illustrated by Graeme Base
Published by Penguin Random House Australia
RRP: $26.99

The fish living beneath the dragon-moon are happy and safe, but it was not always this way. Previously, the herons would terrorise the fish and they lived in fear. One day, however, an orphan fish is found and taken in by an old couple. The fish grew and grew, and after much teasing and feeling left out, he leaves. He travels far, asking different animals where he belongs, until finally returning home. Here, as the herons come again, he changes to defend his home. His difference is finally accepted, and celebrated.

This is a visually stunning book. Told in a fable style way, it is essentially a story of fitting in and being different, a bit like the Ugly Duckling. Set in China, under water, the detail in the illustrations is exquisite. Colour is used beautifully, and various viewpoints are used to position the viewer and tell the visual narrative. Base continues his element of fun and puzzles with a panda fish on each page, some harder to find than others!

One scene is a classroom, with writing in Chinese on the board. I asked some Chinese students at my school what the writing meant, and they loosely translated some of it. One thing they did say was on the left-hand side, towards the bottom of the board, is the students’ homework tasks, and one task is to observe the moon.

This is an exceptional picture book that will be treasured by many. It is for all ages, the above-mentioned students loved it, and a group of Year 7 boys and I spent quite a while searching for the pandas on each page, after I read it aloud to them of course! An absolute must for all public and school libraries, and fans of picture books.

Many thanks to Penguin Random House for supplying this book for review.