Unlikely dreams take shape in this unusual picture book about fish that want to be Olympic swimmers. María José Ferrada (How to Order the Universe) humorously imagines all that is required to achieve such an unlikely ambition and Mariana Alcántara's illustrations reinforce the absurdity and the joy in this whimsical fancy.

The fish know "you need to be motivated./ So they tell stories: The one about Uncle Salmon who crossed the Pacific Ocean three times... in the middle of winter." Ferrada's anthropomorphic fish provide a playful vehicle for a tale centered around having seemingly unrealistic goals: "Every species has a recurring dream," after all. The poetic, oddly pragmatic nature of the text sets a languid pace, mirrored in the strokes of the swimming characters. The figures are all oriented toward the right-hand page, giving each illustration a sense of forward movement.

Alcántara's art blurs the line between human and fish by splashing (salmon) pink, blues and yellows on otherwise grayscale images. She mixes attributes: human forms include fins and tails while a school of tuna is composed of people; fish eat a breakfast of sea plants at a dining room table while wearing bathing suits, "preferably blue with white stripes." Ferrada and Alcántara's nonsensical story (translated effectively from the original Spanish by Kit Maude) is a lovely, visually intriguing tale about the dream that slips away every morning and the anticipation of it returning again and again. --Jen Forbus, freelancer

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