Alba: The Hundred Year Old Fish

Hawthorne’s picturebook conveys an important ecological message in a colourful and clear way aided by the use of glorious illustrations. Once you are enticed by the stunning front cover you will be further surprised and rewarded when you open the book by the lavishly creative endpapers showing the spectacular world of the coral reef.

The story centres around Alba, a fish that loves to roam the oceans collecting precious items, which are in plentiful supply at the beginning of the story. Over time Alba’s once-colourful world becomes drab and the beautiful coral reef is filled with plastic and other debris from human pollution. Alba’s friends are also slowly disappearing.

The illustrations at the beginning of the book stunningly depict the diversity of ocean life and educate us about this world. As the ocean gets polluted, the illustrations poignantly convey the sadness surrounding this change and the damage being done by humans to the planet in a very clear and simple way.

Alba’s story informs younger readers of the value of looking after our planet and through the actions taken by the young girl in the story, encourages children to do something practical to make a difference. There is a very useful guide towards the end of the book setting out some of the ocean creatures to be found in the coral reef.

This book is a great way to open up a conversation about the value of looking after our environment. Definitely one to read.