In my perennial search for great children’s books written by people other than the beloved Sally Lloyd-Jones (there are few), I recently came across the clearest illustration of the law (demand) and grace (love) paradigm in storybook form: The Pout-Pout Fish by Deborah Diesen. The story is about sad Mr. Fish, and all the other fish of the sea, who each in their own special way tell him to smile and cheer up. You know, what’s wrong with you? Mr. Fish’s constant refrain to these well-intended yet naive advice givers goes like this:

I’m a pout-pout fish with a pout-pout face. So I spread the dreary-wearies all over the place. Blub. Bluuuub. Bluuuuub.

Mr. Fish’s self description as “pout-pout” is a very timely exploration of identity. Who is the real Mr. Fish? Is he doomed to a dreary-weary pout-pout identity forever? As he says to those who give him advice to be happy, “I would try, but I haven’t any choice.” Where is the hope?

The good news (silver lining) does come along by way of a fish in a silent silver shimmer, the likes of which all the other fish have never seen before. And as we’re told, “Instead of saying hey …”

You’ll either have to buy the book or watch the video below to see how against all odds the pout-pout fish was transformed to saying:

I should have known it all along. I thought I was a pouty, but it turns out I was wrong. I’m a kiss-kiss fish with a kiss-kiss face. For spreading cheery-cheeries all over the place … Smooooooooch!

This tale is very 1 John 4:19!

P.S. Speaking of fishy children’s books, and speaking Sally Lloyd-Jones, be sure to check out her new Poor Doreen: A Fishy Tale.