"The Pout-Pout Fish" is a truly terrible childrens' book series for teaching about consent and mental health

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2020/08/28/the-pout-pout-fish-is-a-tr.html


Be depressed… be very depressed.

Picture Books
    The Pout-Pout Fish, 2008
    The Pout-Pout Fish in the Big-Big Dark, 2010
    The Pout-Pout Fish Goes to School, 2014
    The Pout-Pout Fish Learns to Read, 2015
    The Not Very Merry Pout-Pout Fish, 2015
    The Pout-Pout Fish and the Bully-Bully Shark, 2017
    The Pout-Pout Fish Far, Far from Home, 2017
    Pout-Pout Fish: Easter Surprise, 2018
    The Pout-Pout Fish and the Can't-Sleep Blues, 2018
    Pout-Pout Fish: Lucky Leprechaun, 2019
    Pout-Pout Fish: Back to School, 2019
    Pout-Pout Fish: Haunted House, 2019
    Be Thankful, Pout-Pout Fish, 2019
    Pout-Pout Fish: Christmas Spirit, 2019
    The Pout-Pout Fish Cleans Up the Ocean, 2019
    Pout-Pout Fish: Special Valentine, 2019
    Pout-Pout Fish Goes to the Doctor, 2020
    Pout-Pout Fish: Goes to the Dentist, 2020
    5-Minute Pout-Pout Fish Stories, 2020
Board Books
    Smile, Pout-Pout Fish, 2014
    Sweet Dreams, Pout-Pout Fish, 2015
    Kiss, Kiss, Pout-Pout Fish, 2015
    Trick or Treat, Pout-Pout Fish, 2016
    Happy Easter, Pout-Pout Fish, 2017
    The Pout-Pout Fish Halloween Faces, 2018
    Happy Hanukkah, Pout-Pout Fish, 2020
Chapter Books
    You Can Do It, Pout-Pout Fish!, 2019
    You Can Make a Friend, Pout-Pout Fish!, 2019
    You Can Be Kind, Pout-Pout Fish!, 2020
    You Can Read, Pout-Pout Fish!, 2020
Activity & Novelty Books
    Lift-the-Flap Tab: Hide and Seek, Pout-Pout Fish, 2015
    The Pout-Pout Fish: Wipe Clean Workbook ABC, 1-20, 2015
    The Pout-Pout Fish Giant Sticker Book, 2016
    The Pout-Pout Fish Undersea Alphabet Touch & Feel, 2016
    Pout-Pout Fish Wipe Clean Dot to Dot, 2017
    The Pout-Pout Fish Look-and-Find Book, 2018

Stuck, by Oliver Jeffers. Really, any of his books. They’re fairly absurd and the art is wonderful. Favorites of the adults AND the children I know.


Holy fucksocks; glad I missed that one when my kid was little.

Rainbow Fish was bad enough (change yourself and bribe people in order to get them to like you.)


Check out Little Owl’s Night and Little Owl’s Day by Divya Srinivasan. I loved reading those to my nieces. Giraffes Can’t Dance by Giles Andreae is a good one, too.

I recommend you avoid We’re Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen - it contains horrible lessons for ecology, wildlife management, and how to behave in the wilderness. Also, the onomatopoeia gets super annoying.


Grumpy Monkey is what you want Pout-Pout Fish to be. He’s grumpy. His friends try to cheer him up. He realizes that it’s okay to be grumpy, and accepting his emotions helps him cope!


My son is 15 now, but when he was little, my favorite was The Little Cat Baby. It’s ridiculous and funny and sweet.


I am a graduate student in early childhood education (literally just student teaching from my master’s and certification, but pandemic, so… :man_shrugging:

In one of my literacy classes (two years ago), the professor used “The Pout-Pout Fish” as an example of a good children’s book, and we went through it in detail. After class, I argued that there was absolutely no way that I would let the book in my classroom, much less use it for instruction, precisely because of the consent issues. She brushed off my criticisms.

Yeah, there are better books for teaching about mental health. For depression, I like “The Princess and the Fog” by Lloyd Jones.


I can not recommend enough Grumpy Monkey by Suzanne Lang, illus. Max Lang.

It’s been a favorite since the small human’s second birthday. Normalizes the main character (Jim Panzee)’s feeling “meh” even though it’s a beautiful day in the face of all the animals asking “why” and suggesting fixes. Plus it’s really funny and the illustrations are great.



“Why can’t you smile more, like Bruce over here? Everyone loves him!”




“…and the bananas were too sweet.”


Know what’s nice about the Winnie-the-Pooh stories? Eeyore clearly suffers from depression, yet none of the other characters exclude him from their activities or tell him he needs to smile more. They just accept him as he is and support him however they can. And those stories were written almost a century ago.


I avoided that one for the very reasons you are haunted. It’s a terrible book.

Try these. I used amazon links for ease. You could find most of these at any good book store site.
Get White Cat & Black Cat. Sweet message about friendship, board book, and high contrast images that will help capture the attention of babies. https://www.amazon.com/dp/1492637815/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_apa_i_F3tsFbZHP99JX

Giraffes Can’t Dance. This book will last you years. Great message about being yourself. Colorful animals everywhere. Nice rhythm https://www.amazon.com/dp/0545392551/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_apa_i_36tsFbDR6KD4N

A Color of His Own. About finding your people. Very pretty. https://www.amazon.com/dp/0375810919/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_apa_i_67tsFbAKNERTR

If I Were A Fox. By jellycat. A little pricey but an extremely sturdy tactil book. Our kid loved it when she was wee and still goes back to it a few times a month to pet it, even at 4.

Whistle for Willie or any other book by Ezra Jack Keats. Some of the few board books I found with Black characters. https://www.amazon.com/dp/0670880469/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_apa_i_sausFbHT6GHF9

If you want something fun, inclusive, girl empowering for you to read, get the Questioners books. The link is for Ada Twist Scientist, but they are all good. 3 of the 4 are about girls. I love the language, the illustrations are beautiful, and the people depicted come in all colors and sizes.way advanced for a baby, but fun for you so they can hear your voice. https://www.amazon.com/dp/1419721372/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_apa_i_BdusFbFVVB9WR

Also the “That’s Not My …” books are sturdy and tactile. We have the dragon and the unicorn.

I can go on but this post is already a bit lengthy.

ETA: lest I damn with faint praise, Ezra Jack Keats’ books are beautiful and engaging as well as featuring Black characters :heart_eyes:


Ezra Jack Keats is an American Treasure, and his writing and illustration are among the greatest in the 20th century.


I could not agree more! Whistle for Willie is the kid’s fav, but every book of his that I’ve read was great.


The Brave Little Grork by Kathryn Cave & Nick Maland is an enjoyable title.

I Like Myself by Karen Beaumont

As noted above, any of the Oliver Jeffers books are superlative

Lastly, any of the Willy Claflin books (and especially the author-narrated versions) are wonderful

The Jon Klassen books are also enjoyable, if occasionally dabbling in lapinicide…


I completely agree. They were a huge part of what I read to my own daughter. (And if Tigger doesn’t have ADHD, no one does.)


If this book series consistently gives you the wrong way of solving a problem, I imagine this book could be reworked into John Wick 4


This whole article reminded me of my rebellion against “Old Macdonald had a farm”. After 750 reditions of that song at 2am, I snapped, and started singing sir mixalot’s “I like bigbutts”



Baby Got Back.