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Please, Mr Magic Fish

Jessica Souhami
Otter-Barry Books
Age 3-7

A story with magic sparkle, this vibrant, beautifully illustrated story is based on the traditional European tale, The Fisherman and his Wife. It was made famous by the brothers’ Grimm in Germany, by Pushkin in Russia and there are also Jewish Sephardic, North American and Bolivian versions.

It tells of a poor fisherman whose good deed is rewarded with a wish that makes him and his wife very happy… for a month! A second and third wish magicked increasingly large houses and riches for them, but no more happiness, until greed saw them back where they started, in their leaky cottage with a bare larder.



Share the story

Read aloud

Read the story aloud, taking time to talk together about the pictures as you do.

Things to talk about

  • Take time to look and talk about the cover together. What do children notice? What kind of story might it be?

  • As you read the book allow time to pause for them to predict what might happen next, before turning the page.

  • Talk together about anything they notice or wonder about the story, characters, illustrations or layout.

  • After finishing the book, share favourite parts of the story, including favourite illustrations, and talk about why they like them.

  • Talk about any morals or lessons from the story.

  • What would they tell someone else about this book?

Things to make and do

Make a zig-zag book
What is your child’s ‘dearest wish’?
Talk about what they would wish for if they had 3 wishes.
Perhaps they could choose 3 wishes for themselves and 3 wishes for the world.
Make a zig zag book with 6 sections. Children can draw their wish and make a caption for each drawing, beginning ‘I wish…’, or you could write it for them.

On the cover, they could write their name and the title, eg Mina’s book of wishes or, Mo’s Book of wishes for the world.

Make a story
There are many stories, like this one, where you need to “be careful what you wish for.”
Children can make up their own story about a wish that gets out of control or makes life difficult instead of better.

Change the story
In this traditional tale, the ‘wish-giver’ is usually a fish but it can sometimes be a mermaid, a mouse or a fairy. Children could change the story to have their own ‘wish-giver’.

Make a magic fish

  • Use a large sheet of thin paper; newspaper is fine.

  • Fold in half and draw the shape of the biggest fish you can to fill the folded sheet.

  • Cut out the fish shape (from both sides of the folded sheet).

  • Glue around the inside edges to stick the two sides of the fish together.

  • Leave a 6-10 cm opening at the bottom.

  • Decorate each side of the fish, either by painting or sticking on pieces of coloured and silver paper.

  • When dry, gently fill the fish with some crumpled paper, cellophane or tissue.

  • Glue to close the gap.

  • Children can either stick a straw or lollystick in the gap to make a stick puppet or thread cotton through the top middle of the fish to hang up.


Find out more

Read about the author/illustrator: Jessica Souhami

View other versions of the story here and here

Watch a beautiful animated version of Pushkin’s poem version (in Russian with English subtitles)

Watch a version set in Africa illustrated by Caldecott Honor-winning artist Rachel Isadora

Read other books by the author/illustrator:

Rama and the Demon King

In the Dark, Dark Wood

No Dinner

Leopard’s Drum

King Pom



Mother Caught a Fl

One Potato, Two Potato

The Sticky doll trap

The Little, Little House

Mrs McCool and the GIANT Cuchulainn

The Strongest Boy in the World