Children’s Book Review: A Little Fish Finds New Friends
This captivating book of underwater adventure chronicles an entire day of a curious little fish. Through colorful and vibrant illustrations, the book reveals the many wonders of the ocean and teaches kids about the importance of friends, family, and exploration!
Accompanied by a fun song (available on iTunes and Amazon Music) that lets readers easily follow and sing along with the words on the page!
There’s something about the world under the sea that makes it so fascinating. Maybe it’s the 240,470 species that live in the sea or the fish living 3000 meters below the ocean that light up the sea with their own lights. Either way, children like learning about the ocean and sea life. A children’s ocean-themed book can provide an abundance of new discoveries and learning opportunities for little ones. They are an excellent way to learn about one of the most amazing parts of our world.
A Little Fish Finds New Friends by Troy Mihalek is a heartwarming rhyming children’s book that will swim its way into the hearts of your little ones. This book is about a little fish that journies out into the deep blue sea to explore the great unknown. Throughout his journey, he finds many great new treasures and makes new friends but not before running into a little trouble first.
Lindsey Nauta did a superb job illustrating the book. A Little Fish Finds New Friends pops with color and the illustrations will keep your children entertained and smiling. This is an enchanting story that you will not be able to put down. The illustrations, coupled with cleverly used rhymes, catch, and engage children’s attention throughout the book. The pictures take us on a journey of real places under the sea. We meet all types of exciting sea creatures, including Leopard Sharks, Manta Rays, and an Octopus.
As you turn each page, you can’t help but fall in love with this book by Troy Mihalek more and more. A Little Fish Finds New Friends has swum its way to the section of our favorites on the bookshelf and I can’t wait to reread it to my little one! Come swim along with the little fish as he meets new friends and join us for exploration in the big ocean blue!
Don’t forget to check out the video of the sing-along that goes with this book. Your kids will have you playing it on replay!
Where Can I Find A Little Fish Finds New Friends?
About the Author, Troy Mihalek
“With a background and education in business, Troy is a creator at heart with a passion for art and entertainment. “A Little Fish” is his first published kids book among his portfolio of creative productions that include parodies and voiceovers.
Troy and his wife have three children and live in Arizona. He works in Business Development, coaches soccer and volunteers with Junior Achievement.”
Rapid Fire with Troy Mihalek
Q. What does your family think of your writing?
Troy: “A Little Fish Finds New Friends” was a book written for my kids – and in some regards by my kids. Throughout the process, they were shown illustrations and the song, and even at their young ages, they provided feedback on every aspect of the book. Now that ‘it’s a finished piece, they are the biggest fans of the song and the story. My four-year-old constantly sings it, and even my two-year-old knows the book quite well.
Q. What was the most surprising thing you learned about creating books?
Troy: Kids books may seem easy to write, and in some ways they are (i.e., they are shorter with much fewer words), but I soon realized that there are embedded complexities that quickly come to the surface – especially if you are self-publishing. These hurdles are likely the reason why ‘it’s so difficult to evolve a ‘children’s book from idea to reality.
Beyond the story, the illustrations are a key component when it comes to kids books. ‘It’s crucial to ensure that the illustrator is aligned with the author so that the story is told in the richest way possible. I was fortunate to have a good friend who could help me bring life to the story.
I also quickly learned that self-publishing is a journey. There are lots of considerations and details that you ‘don’t necessarily think about, and the process takes much longer than anticipated.
Lastly, it became apparent that marketing and selling the book is much more difficult than creating it.
Q. What do you think makes a good story?
Troy: As I was writing this book, I wanted to make sure it was a story that had a positive message (making even the unlikeliest of friends), promoted family and friends and introduced the concept of “days” (e.g., breakfast, lunch, dinner, and then bedtime).
Beyond the story and fantastic illustrations, I wanted my book to have a third element: Music. I noticed that my kids and their friends LOVE music. It seems to be an innate appreciation that almost every kid has, but that is sometimes diluted as we get older. But sometimes music can be yet another channel to further unlock the imagination, so I wanted to make that a part of my book.
As such, I thought that if I could incorporate a fun song to tell a well-illustrated story, kids would be more engaged and want to read more. Additionally, because kids are memory-driven beings, I hoped that if they memorized the song and associated it with the book, they could also grasp the concept of reading much more quickly.
Q. What advice do you have for writers?
Troy: My advice is mainly targeted for those who are looking to self-publish because I believe that if you are contracted with a publisher, you will have a different experience.
For new writers who are navigating the process, my biggest advice is to stay focused and be disciplined. Recognize that the process will take considerably longer than you initially expect, so be patient. It is easy to start the process but increasingly difficult to finish. Also, be sure to do your research on the self-publishing companies because there are hundreds of companies out there.
Writers, feel free to email me with questions about the process at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Q. How did you become involved in the subject or theme of your book?
Troy: “A Little Fish Finds New Friends” was the product of a labor of love inspired by my kids and their love for bedtime stories for kids.
The chorus of the song (“I’m a little fishy swimming in the sea. Please, Mr. Octopus, don’t eat me!”) was created during the kids’ bath time. What started as a fun bath-time game, turned into weeks of different song variations that they couldn’t get out of their heads!
From that “catchy” chorus, I wrote the rest of the children’s book that chronicles the day of a little fish exploring the wonders of the magnificent ocean and making the unlikeliest of friends. I then asked one of my childhood friends, Lindsey Nauta, to provide the illustrations.
The story ultimately evolved into a complete song and book that was paired with illustrations featuring captivating pictures of the most popular sea creatures.
The result is a fun bedtime story that can be read, listened to, and sung by little “fishes” around the world.
Q. Can you tell us about one of the most rewarding moments you have had as an author?
Troy: For me, the most rewarding part is the feedback I get from other parents and kids who truly love the book and the song. I was told that one kid brought the book into her classroom to showcase it as her “favorite book.” Knowing that other kids appreciate it as much as my kids do makes it rewarding.
Q. Are you working on anything at the present that you would like to share with your readers about?
Troy: I’ve got a few other ideas, but I’m focused on getting this book off the ground. As I mentioned before, it’s a lot of work to self-publish and I don’t want to sacrifice excellence. If I had a publisher, I would have a few other titles in the works. For now, I’m keeping them in the archives.
Q. Is there a message in your novel that you hope readers will grasp?
Troy: I hit on this a bit earlier, but there are a few different messages in the book. The most obvious one is that anyone can be a friend – we should be open to all types of people, even those that may initially seem to be against us. The little fish was presented with a lot of scary challenges, but he made the most of it and kept an open mind.
Some other messages are:
- Stay curious and keep exploring. The world is an amazing place, and we should never lose our sense of adventure.
- Family is so important. Cherish them, love them, and keep them a priority.
- The book takes readers through a full day – morning, afternoon, and night (ending at bedtime). It teaches them about the concept of time and the importance of getting a good ‘night’s sleep to take on the next day.
Q. Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?
Troy: I have gotten a lot of feedback, mostly from parents. All of my feedback has been quite positive, especially with the song. People also love illustration.
The best feedback I get is when I hear from kids (like the example I gave above) who love reading the book and have it top of mind when they want to read or share their favorite story.
The most consistent feedback I have gotten across the board is that many people didn’t realize there was a song. Once they understand that you can play the song through the QR code on the front of the book or the title page inside, they gain a completely new appreciation of the book and reading experience.
A Little More About Illustrator, Lindsey Nauta
“Lindsey is a long-time friend of Troy’s and was the first person he thought of when looking for an exceptional illustrator. In addition to this children’s book, she has an extensive portfolio of artistic creations and shares a love of creativity with her husband. Lindsey and her husband have a daughter and live in New York.”
Q. What process takes place in creating your artwork?
Lindsey: For illustration, I look up inspiration of the subject, sketch a bit, and then get into playing around on the computer in an illustration program.
Q. Can you describe the artistic process behind your illustration creations?
Lindsey: I am already drawn to (no pun intended..ok maybe a small pun) the wonder of nature, especially ocean life. For ‘A Little Fish’, I had a lot of fun looking up the creatures in the book and finding inspiration from their little characteristics and behaviors- little spots that can look like freckles on our main Fish friend, or the Stingray bursting out of a sandy hiding place- I start with research and then moved through the book mostly page by page from start to finish. I liked the look of a kind of watercolor medium for this book and didn’t want it to look too ‘cartoony,’ so there are no hard outlines of any of the illustrations. Troy and I had a lot of conversations back and forth during the process as well, to make sure the illustrations supported his vision of the story, and that collaboration is always helpful and valuable for me.
Q. Are there any illustrators that have inspired the way you approach your illustrative work?
Lindsey: I like Oliver Jeffers illustrations, they are whimsical and sort of simple and yet you know it’s his work when you see it. His use of color and lighting in his work are also really beautiful. I also love Maurice Sendak with the classic Where the Wild Things Are. There are so many more talented illustrators out there!
Q. Which page was the most fun to illustrate?
Lindsey: The Octopus was one of the first ones I did, and I loved how his tentacles came out with all his sucky-cups and the way his body gave the opportunity to create some cool shadows. The simplicity of the title page and last page against a white background is also a favorite:)
Q. How did you start your career as an illustrator?
Lindsey: When Troy asked me to illustrate his book, ha! Actually, I did a watercolor book in college for a final project, but that was different as it was a hand-painted book. Before that, any illustrating I did was doodling, and otherwise, my artistic ability was done through painting, printmaking, and other types of design. I started to learn an illustrator program for my job a year before Troy contacted me about the book, which is how I created the illustrations for ‘A Little Fish.’ So, I was preparing to illustrate his book apparently before either of us knew it.
Q. Since creating artwork is your job, what kind of hobbies do you enjoy to relieve stress and help inspire your artwork?
Lindsey: Great question. Going to an art museum is always inspiring and also relaxing. That is a major perk of living in a big city, access to incredible art! I also like to get moving through soccer, boxing, or yoga, and foundational to everything I do is the hope I believe Jesus offers us all. Being a new mom has also opened up a whole new realm of creativity, primarily naming my daughter’s inanimate objects and making up stories about them. Parents are some of the most creative people I know, be it learning new skills or sleep deprivation.
Q. Are you working on something new and exciting for us to look forward to?
Lindsey: I am developing some illustrations for an online yoga platform that will have to do with Christian Mystics throughout history. There are also wheels spinning in my head for a closed-loop children’s clothing collection; my day job is as an associate designer for childrenswear. Check back next year and ask my one-year-old how that’s going…
Q. Did you draw as a child?
Lindsey: I did. Drawing was always something I seemed to be able to do with less ‘training,’ unlike telling time on clock faces which were not natural gifting for me as a child. I did learn how to tell time eventually, and I do think anyone can learn to draw in their style, with patience and practice (and perhaps the occasional half-confident smile if it’s anything like telling time).
Q. What were your favorite books growing up?
Lindsey: Hans Christian Andersen’s, The Little Mermaid, The Emperor’s New Clothes, The Baby Sitter’s Club Books (Fun Fact: I am now friends with one of the actual babysitters).
Q. Where can we find you online?
Lindsey: You can follow me on Instagram if you like pictures of babies, weird animal facts, and my cute husband, but I don’t have a professional online presence as of now (she said hoping some tech-savvy person might help her create one). I do have some work that can be seen upon request, and I am always happy to collaborate on projects and help bring the unseen into sight.
Don't Forget To Join Troy on Social Media!
All in all, my family and I have really enjoyed this book and we know you will too! Please feel free to leave me any comments or questions about this review. I look forward to hearing from you!
* This book was kindly sent to me by Author, Troy Mihalek in exchange for an honest review.