A young girl loses her glasses over the side of a boat onto a reef below. They land on the face of a little fish and improve his vision. The young girl dove below saw and then heard Bad Eyes in her thoughts. At that moment she gifted the glasses to her new finned friend and left the reef with a promise to return. The little fish goes on with some misadventure to meet the reef animals and learns with Marsha how to help keep the reef alive as a community.
Bad Eyes, a fish with poor eyesight, swims with his school of Manini (also known as surgeonfish) around their home
reef in Hawaii. Having bad eyesight is dangerous in this environment because of the many predators that catch and eat
Manini. Swimming nearer the surface one day, Bad Eyes encounters humans: a girl, Marsha, exploring the reef with her
marine biologist father in a boat. When her glasses fall off, they somehow attach themselves to Bad Eyes. To his
amazement, he can now see clearly. Marsha dives in with her snorkeling gear and, miraculously, can talk telepathically
to Bad Eyes. She wants to be friends and gives the glasses to him as a gift. Bad Eyes With Glasses—his new
name—becomes a protector for his school, negotiating with barracudas, sharks, octopuses, groupers, and other animals;
he learns much more about them and passes on important information, such as how to escape a gill net. The assorted reef
populations vow to cooperate and protect themselves. Meanwhile, Marsha and her father work to halt human activities
like the nets that badly damage fish and reefs. The volume leaves off hinting at more escapades to come. In his children’s
book, Golicz (BE ALONE WITH ME, 2016) effectively combines adventure with ecological facts about ocean dwellers.
Morey the Eel, for example, explains to Bad Eyes that he lives “by eating you and any fool, weak, or dead fish, snail,
crab, lobster, or cucumber” that drifts by. The character of Marsha allows kids to identify with the story—which is never
preachy—and think about what they could do to help preserve ocean reefs and wildlife. But dialogue can be stiff (for
example, “Marsha, I’m not sure about your feelings, but you are without any danger from a schooling reef fish”), and
Bad Eyes’ various encounters are very similar. While the uncredited black-and-white illustrations give the fish
expressive faces, they clumsily combine photographs and drawings.
An informative environmental tale with a few rough spots.
KirkusKirkus Indie, Kirkus Media LLC, 6411 Burleson Rd., Austin, TX 78744