Fishtailing by Wendy Phillips

I’ve had my eye on this book for a while…  It won the 2010 Governor General’s award for Children’s Literature – Text – and that got me really curious :).  Well… I bought it yesterday and read it last night –  my curiosity is now satisfied and the book – it’s awesome!

It’s written in prose from 4 different teen perspectives with a teacher and guidance counsellor mixed in.  It is such a different way of presenting these teen views.  Now, I have read the Ellen Hopkins series (Crank, Glass and Fallout) also written in prose with Fallout written from three perspectives but this one grabbed me in a different way.  I think it was the shortness of the pages – the author had to convey her message in a very short poem for each person.  She did it with such punch I couldn’t put it down.

From the Canada Council for the Arts website Fishtailing is described as follows:

“In this highly-inventive, poetic narrative, four compelling characters take the reader on a wild ride through the dangerous terrain of friendships threatened by manipulative acts. Deftly switching voices, Wendy Phillips creates a powerful momentum in Fishtailing that leaves the reader breathless.”

I really enjoyed how the tone of the poems written by some of the characters changed depending on where they were in their relationships.  The conversations between teacher and counsellor were annoying at times on so many levels – but they really did fit the situation and I appreciate them.  I really enjoyed this book and definitely recommend it.  I have to wonder what the potential is to incorporate a book such as this one into a school curriculum?  Now – am I being silly?  Who knows…

Highly recommended

Ages: 14 and up

Guess what?  There’s a book trailer 🙂  Here you go….


Favourite quote:

“Homework is a constant mutter
class is a drone
except for the short, sharp
bite of the bell.”      p. 50

‘The librarian tells us
we’re here to distill
the truth
from its many representations.”     p. 44


Phillips, Wendy. (2010). Fishtailing. Regina, SK: Coteau Books for Teens.

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