The Day I Swapped My Dad for Two Goldfish by Neil Gaiman and illustrated by Dave McKean
I originally got this to read to my five-year-old nephew when he spent the summer with us. However, like every picky reader, he wanted a different title read to him, specifically Neil Gaiman’s The Wolves in the Walls.
After he left, I decided to read the book, and I was pleasantly surprised. Although I didn’t find it as engaging as The Wolves in the Walls, the story was quite entertaining.
The premise is this: A young boy, frustrated by his father who only wants to read the newspaper, decides to trade his boring dad for two exciting goldfish. However, when the boy’s mother learns what has happened, she demands the boy and his sister retrieve their father.
The ensuing tale results in hilarious moments as the siblings discover a chain-reaction of trading has occurred. The pair follow his trail from house to house and trade to trade until they eventually discover him crouched in a rabbit hutch, still reading his paper.
As always, Gaiman takes a far-fetched idea and creates a fantastic story that captures his reader’s attention. Having once been a child, I can vividly remember the frustration I felt when my parents were too engrossed in tasks I deemed boring. Had I been given the opportunity to trade them for something more exciting, I just might have done so.
There isn’t a morality lesson tucked within this children’s tale, but young readers will be fascinated by the idea of trading their parent for a pet and be dazzled by Dave McKean’s stunning artwork.