One Boy’s Choice
Sueli Menezes (translated by Kathryn Bishop) and Annika Siems
Set in the Amazon jungle, this is a story about a boy who goes out in a canoe to spend a day fishing with his grandad. The boy is eager to catch a really big fish to take home and show his friends. Grandad navigates the boat around the huge water-lilies while the boy peers into the water, watching and waiting for that fish. They wait and wait and wait, then move on and cast the net instead of a line. Still nothing, and while they wait Grandad tells stories about the various fish that live beneath the water-lilies.
Hours later lo and behold to the boy’s delight, there’s a water-lily fish – an Arowana – in the net. However, his delight quickly disappears when Grandad says they must release the fish – and then he shows the lad this male Arowana, has a mouth full of tiny fish and explains that for a month that’s where the little fish live safely, as well as telling him of the Arowana’s importance in eating mosquitos that can make humans ill. Grandad puts the choice in his grandson’s hands: keep the huge fish and impress his friends or let it go free so male and children can continue living safely in the river. The decision the boy makes pleases his Grandad who remarks, “I am very proud of you. Today you have become a really grown-up boy.”
Showing how our actions affect wildlife, Sueli Menezes’ thought-provoking story becomes even more so in tandem with Annika Siems’ richly hued portrayals of the beautiful Amazon forest in which it’s set.