“I’ll swap you my dad,” I said.
“Oh-oh,” said my little sister.
What if you wanted your best friend’s two goldfish so much that you’d swap anything for them, even your father?
What if your mother came home and found out what you’d done?
So when I decided to start reading children’s books again, I immediately checked out The Day I Swapped by Dad for Two Goldfish by Neil Gaiman from the library. I mean, it’s Neil Gaiman. I wasn’t disappointed. It is a wonderful book.
I laughed out loud more times than I thought possible for a book so short. It was very funny. The idea for the book is silly in and of itself. A boy wants to trade anything he can for his friend Nathan’s two goldfish. Nathan rejects everything until the boy offers to trade his dad. This is when the fun begins: the boy realizes that the goldfish are boring and that this trade was a bad idea, so he and his sister set off to swap the goldfish back. Unfortunately, the boy’s father has been traded off to someone else, and the pair must track down where their father is now.
I liked this book especially because it feels so childlike. What I mean by that is the book evokes just how weird kid’s thoughts are. The book is weird and strange and great. I feel like part of the reason I liked it so much was that I could relate to the family dynamic. Who hasn’t had silly fights with their younger sibling? And the dad: he’s completely oblivious to everything that’s happening because he’s reading the paper. So funny.
I enjoyed the story, but I really loved the illustrations. McKean perfectly combines mediums to create enchanting works of art that convey the message in the book so well. An example:
He’s combined actual pictures of goldfish along with his drawings. In other parts he uses pages of books as the background. McKean’s illustrations are a feast for the eyes to accompany the enchanting story. Wonderful.
I just wanted to include this illustration because I’m pretty much in love with it. I don’t know why I like it so much other than the fact it’s so fun!
I would recommend this book to any fans of Neil Gaiman or of awesome illustrations. I will say that I think this book is more suited to older children.
The Day I Swapped My Dad for Two Goldfish
Written by Neil Gaiman; illustrated by Dave McKean
Published by HarperCollins; August 2004
64 pages (hardcover)
*chuckles at pun*