Review of the Fisherman and the Theefyspray taken from The Melburnian, August 1994
The Theefyspray in Paul Jennings' imagination is a mythical and wonderful deep-sea creature on the brink of extinction. New hope for the species and its survival, occurs when a lonely female gives birth to a single, and presumably, male offspring.
Hope turns to despair, however, when the young Theefyspray is hooked by a lone and elderly fisherman. The fisherman is revealed in great detail by Jean Tanner, as every child's grandfather. He has never seen the like of the Theefyspray and in a moment of great compassion he carefully removes the hook from the creatures mouth and gently releases it back into the ocean. Freed, the Theefyspray swims away in search of it's mother and presumably others of its kind.
Paul Jennings is one of Australia's most popular weavers of stories for children. He says his Theefyspray story is designed to encourage slow readers. A backward reader in his opinion is a young person for whom an adult is yet to choose the 'right book'. Whether this rather complicated story involving a series of abstract ideas, thoughts about conservation and a juxtaposition of age and youth in a fiction which borders on the documentary, will spark a young reader's interest remains a matter of taste. It is however, an interesting approach to children's literature. Even if slow readers are not encouraged by the text, Jean Tanner's detailed illustrations will encourage hours of pleasurable looking, which is no doubt, amongst the first steps to reading.
Taken from The Melburnian, August 1994
Picture book magic remains - Article from Geelong Advertiser, January 1996
Although most picture books seem to lose some of their allure when published in the softcover version, The fisherman and Theefyspray retains that magic which will make you gaze in wonder at each page.
This beautiful book is the story of a fisherman who catches a baby Theefyspray, a fish he has never seen before. His first impulse is to take it back to show his friends, but as he watches the Theefyspray dying in the bottom of his boat, a feeling of sorrow and shame comes over him, so he throws it back.
This book is sensitively written by Paul Jennings, author of many children's books, including Around the Twist, Gizmo, and Grandad's Gifts, to name a few. Jane Tanner is a talented artist, having illustrated many children's books, including There's a Sea in my Bedroom, The Wolf and Drac and the Gremlin, which was joint winner of the picture book section of the Children's Book of the Year Awards in 1989.
The Fisherman and the Theefyspray is winner of the 1994 Wilderness Society environment award for children's literature. This is a book for everyone!
This review was rewritten from Geelong Advertiser, January 1996