I have read many interpretations of the classic Brothers Grimm tale “The Fisherman and his Wife,” but this is the first time I have read the Russian version of this tale. “The Magic Gold Fish” is a Russian folktale retold by Demi and it is about how a poor fisherman wants to please his greedy wife when he finds a magic golden fish. “The Magic Gold Fish” is a great retelling of the ancient tale that children everywhere will love!
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One day, a poor fisherman catches a gold fish and the gold fish promised to repay the kind fisherman in any kind of way. Unfortunately, the fisherman’s greedy wife wanted more from the fish, which includes a cottage, a mansion and a czarina!
When will this madness end?
Read this book to find out!
Ever since I have been reading Demi’s works, I was always amazed at how detailed and beautiful her retellings of ancient folktales are! Demi’s writing is extremely dramatic and interesting at the same time as the fisherman is thrown into one crazy situation into another and I loved the Russian elements being put into this story such as “czarina” and “distaff.” Demi’s illustrations were simply gorgeous as she uses traditional Chinese inks to illustrate the drawings in this book. I especially loved the Russian landscapes in this book such as the picture of the royal palace looking red and having red flags waving in the air. I also loved the illustrations of the fisherman’s wife being dressed in gold and red royal clothing after she wishes to be a czarina and it really helped me see Russia in ancient times through a picture book.
The problem I had with this book is that the wife is a bit too cruel in this version as she goes from beating her husband up to making him live in the stables and pushing him away from her. Okay, well maybe she is more vain than cruel, but it was just so hard to even like her character in this version and I constantly feel sorry for the fisherman as he has to take his wife’s abuse throughout the book. So in a way, the ending was a bit satisfying for me because the fisherman’s wife gets what is coming to her for her greed, but at the same time, I felt that there should have been more added at the end, such as whether or not the fisherman’s wife learned her lesson or not.
All in all, “The Magic Gold Fish” was an interesting spin on the classic Brothers Grimm tale and children everywhere who love reading Russian folktales will definitely enjoy this classic tale! I would recommend this book to children ages five and up since the greedy wife might upset smaller children.