Author and illustrator Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean are a brilliant team. Their book, The Day I Swapped my Dad for Two Goldfish had that amazing silencing power over my classroom – so engrossing that at times there was not a word! And then at other times, volume turned high in discussion and debate – on task talking! Yippee!
This book in and of itself is pretty darn amusing. The conversation and comments it inspired in the classroom – hilarious!
Nathan comes over with two goldfish in a bowl. They were pretty neat – reddy-gold and beautiful swimmers. A swap is proposed. The problem – Nathan isn’t interested in anything offered, not the transformer robots, the annoying penny whistle or the punching bag. So some deep thinking happens: “I’ll swap you my Dad.”
Whoa!! This caused quite the commotion in our room. Nathan, back in the book, was sceptical. One Dad for two goldfish doesn’t seem quite right until it is pointed out that a Dad is as big as a hundred goldfish. And he can swim (“Can’t” protests the little sister) So Nathan leaves with a newsparer reading Dad and the two goldfish remain.
So I ask: What do you all think? Is it a fair trade? I love how they take this question absolutely seriously!
Kevin: “No! A Dad is more useful than goldfish.”
Hajhare: “A Dad is more valuable, he grew up with you.”
Jeremiah: “But he still has his Mom.”
Hajhare: “Nope a Dad is not available.”
Alyson: “Without the father, you can’t have another baby.”
Lisa: “The Mom will be pretty surprised when she gets home.”
And of course Mommy says, “You can take these goldfish over to Nathan this minute, and don’t you come back without your father.”
But this is a little bit more difficult than first seems because Nathan has done some more swapping.
Alyson: “My Dad is more expensive.”
My important clarifying question: “How much is a Dad worth?”
Ricky: “Dads have mastercards.”
Kevin: “Why don’t you ask a Dad to buy you goldfish?” Indeed!
We began to think this swapping might not end. There was much more searching following the trail and a gorilla mask, Galveston the rabbit and the Queen of Melanesia enter the story. Finally the Dad is recovered still reading the paper and sitting in a rabbit hutch.
Hajhare: “I think the message is Moms are all about love and Dads are about newspapers.”
Manny: “No that’s not the message. It’s – don’t let kids trade people.”
Whatever the message, this book is an adventure worth reading. (Preferably out loud to some opinionated children 🙂 )