Koi: A Modern Folktale

By: Sheldon Harnick
Photographer: Margery Gray Harnick and Matt Harnick
Publisher: Beaufort Books
Publication Date: June 2017
ISBN: 978-0825308413
Reviewed by: Ellen Feld

Koi are beautiful, majestic, and a little bit mysterious and have been the focal point of numerous legends. In the new book Koi: A Modern Folktale, a new legend comes alive to entertain and intrigue readers.

With a foreword by Alan Alda that gives the reader a little background on the history and legends surrounding koi (and please don't call them big goldfish - they are ornamental carp), the reader is transported to a faraway land where koi are numerous and brighten the waters with their magnificent colors. In this modern tale, written in haiku, we learn about the role of koi in bringing delight to mankind with their resplendent colors.

The gods high up in heaven soon notice how much pleasure the koi give man:

What impressed the gods
was the way in which the koi's
prismatic beauty

could brighten men's days,
as it nourished their senses,
and lightened their hearts.

The gods




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decide that the koi should be rewarded for "enriching men's lives." They cast a spell on the koi that...I don't want to spoil the story so I'll simply say the koi are amply rewarded as is the reader by following along with the adventure.

The author of Koi, Sheldon Harnick, is a Pulitzer Prize winning lyricist and his talent definitely carries over to the writing of haiku. Because the Japanese are credited with developing the ornamental varieties of koi that we know today, the choice of writing the story in haiku is particularly fitting. Along with the fun story, Harnick's wife, actress and photographer Margery Harnick, and their photographer son, Matt Harnick, have provided absolutely stunning photographs of various koi that add so much to the book. The expressions on the fish, their colors, and even the rainbow qualities of the water, add a mystical feeling to the story that makes it seem as if the koi are jumping off the pages. Together, this talented family has created a lovely new legend that boasts a great selection of amazing photographs of the brightly colored, majestic koi.

Quill says: A lovely new legend mimicking the stories of old, with absolutely stunning photographs, that brings the wonders of koi to readers of all ages.