Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Reader's Diary #885- Betsy Byars: The Two-Thousand-Pound Goldfish

Revisiting a cherished childhood memory is such a risky venture. Sometimes I'll walk my kids down nostalgia lane and confirm that somethings are every bit as good as I remember (ex. the Goonies) and somethings just aren't (ex. The Dukes of Hazzard). Luckily, Betsy Byars' The 2000 Pound Goldfish held up.

The Two-Thousand-Pound Goldfish I remember buying through a Scholastic book order. I was always writing sci-fi or horror stories as a kid and something as outlandish as a monster goldfish would have been right up my alley. But there were a few surprises in store.

The first surprise was a good one. The book isn't about a killer goldfish per se, but a boy named Warren who is writing a movie about a killer goldfish. I didn't know a whole lot of other nerd kids in real life, so it was nice to have a main character with such similar interests.

The second surprise was also a good one, but I didn't appreciate it immediately. The goldfish movie is also not the point of the book. Instead it's really about Warren trying to deal with an absent mom who is on the lamb from the FBI for being involved with violent protests (just like Homer Simpson's mom). His sister tries to convince him that reuniting with his mother, or even communicating with her, may not be as wonderful as Warren has built it up to be. His grandmother, and legal guardian, is so embittered by the whole situation that she doesn't acknowledge that her daughter (Warren's mother) even exists. This was a bit more mature that I'd been expecting and it took me aback. Warren is choosing to escape through fantasy— did I do that? I'd always took it for granted that imagination was a good thing. That there could be another side was a novel idea.

Of course, upon reflection, the whole FBI premise is also a bit out there, but once I'd decided that I did enjoy the more mature angle, I think I was open to books that had slightly more realistic plots. In high school I still stuck to Stephen King, but I liked Cujo as much as the Shining.


Barbara Bruederlin said...

I have never even heard of this book! I would definitely have ordered this one.
I sort of miss ordering Scholastic books...

John Mutford said...

Barbara: I liked a lot of Betsy Byars books as a kid— though I used to get her and Beverly Cleary mixed up.