How an albino lobster changed three fishermen
Sydor’s (Timerman was Here) latest picture book about an albino lobster was inspired by the adventures of real fishermen. But in her fictionalized story, there are three fisherman, and they like to dream about travel.
After Peter, Santiago, and Ahab catch a white lobster, they want to share it with others, so they take it to the Fisherman’s Net restaurant. Their intentions are good (“Why should theirs be the only eyes to have marveled at this amazing miracle”) when they take him there, but they soon realize the lobster would be happier at home in the ocean, just like the fishermen. They realize fame, money, and travel are not worth it if you have to leave home; which for the three fishermen and the lobster, is the sea.
Almost every sentence in this story was descriptive or heartfelt. Sydor describes the three fishermen in her story as “salty as the bottom of a pretzel bag”, “weathered as a twisted stick of driftwood”, and “three wrinkled pickles in a very old jar”. You can practically taste them after reading these lines. When the owner of the restaurant sees the white lobster was stolen from his tank, he’s not sad because he remembers when he was a child and he kept a Monarch butterfly in a fish bowl with a plastic bag lid until it “folded its wings and lay lifeless on the bottom”. Kerrigan’s paintings show the fishermen in close proximity; almost overlapping at times. When their dreams are shown, the ocean is replaced with desert, open skies and fields of orangish-red tulips. Their fishing boat is little, but they decorate it with colourful flags full of patterns.
I also enjoyed seeing words being incorporated into their fishing bucket and one of their hats, and reading about what magical thing happens to the lobster once he’s released. This is one of those rare books that people of all ages can fall in love with because it’s about feelings we long to recognize in ourselves. And for me, it confirms just how much the sea means to people lucky enough to work on it or live near it.