• Picture Book Snob

Plenty of freaks in the sea!

Freaky, Funky Fish by Debra Kempf Shumaker and Claire Powell, Running Press/Hachette

Freaky Funky Fish by Debra Kempf Shumaker and Claire Powell

What’s it about?

There are so many strange and fascinating fish in the sea and this book tells us all about them. Find out which sting, play dead, fly, climb, hibernate, inflate or even sing, and witness a variety of innovative techniques for staying alive underwater. There's a freakiness or funkiness rating on every page which adds to the appeal.

Freaky Funky Fish by Debra Kempf Shumaker and Claire Powell, Running Press/Hachette

Curious little explorers will enjoy discovering where each fish can be found as well as the list of online resources showing them in action. At the back of the book, there's a more thorough explanation for why certain sea creatures behave in certain ways. There's also suggested reading for anyone who wants to explore marine life more deeply. Children can even test their knowledge, and see how it grows with subsequent readings, by identifying everything they've encountered at the end!

Freaky Funky Fish by Debra Kempf Shumaker and Claire Powell, Running Press/Hachette

What makes it stand out?

In terms of information, it’s more crowded than a tin of sardines, and the alluring combination of intrigue and hilarity will hook readers of all ages.


Why we love it...

THIS BOOK IS GENIUS! It introduces children to a wide variety of sea creatures and manages to be enormously entertaining at the same time. The illustrations are magnificent and humorous, and it rhymes the whole way through.

Freaky Funky Fish by Debra Kempf Shumaker and Claire Powell, Running Press/Hachette

I can't imagine how difficult it must be to write a rhyming nonfiction book, especially one that covers as many facts - and fish - as this one. Just as challenging must be illustrating all the individual specimen and giving them distinct expressions and personalities. This is such a brilliant idea for a picture book and its playful text and exquisite images are a winning combination.

Freaky Funky Fish by Debra Kempf Shumaker and Claire Powell, Running Press/Hachette
The porcupine fish and its predator might be my favourite part of the book

About those illustrations...

We are huge fans of Claire Powell and the illustrations are amazing; incredibly detailed and deliriously funny with the best fish faces you’ll ever see!


Why you need it...

It’s educational and amusing all at once. There's so much to learn; the facts are far more memorable thanks to the comical and beautiful presentation, and it's such a unique book too. We were delighted to hear that Debra and Claire are working on a sequel called Peculiar Primates and we can’t wait to see it!

Freaky Funky Fish by Debra Kempf Shumaker and Claire Powell, Running Press/Hachette

About the author:

Debra Kempf Shumaker loves weird facts. When she isn't reading or writing, Debra enjoys cooking, gardening, and watching Jeopardy. She lives in northern Virginia with her husband, three sons, and two cats who miss the days the youngest son owned an aquarium full of fish. After becoming a mother, Debra rediscovered children’s books and realised she wanted to be more than a reader; she wanted to write. Freaky, Funky Fish is her debut picture book.


About the illustrator:

Claire Powell is the bestselling illustrator of several picture books including The King's Birthday Suit, Octopants and The Night Before the Night Before Christmas. She started out designing for big-hitting television brands before an impromptu visit to a children's book exhibition led her down the path of illustration. A hugely versatile artist, Claire has a talent for creating characters that are brimming with emotion and personality. You can see more of her work on her website: claire-powell.com

Freaky, Funky Fish was published by Running Press/Hachette in May 2021. A huge thank you to the lovely Claire Powell for kindly sending us a gift of this gorgeous book - all opinions expressed are our own.


Read our review of The King's Birthday Suit by Peter Bently and Claire Powell


Read an interview with illustrator Claire Powell #nonfictionsep21