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Fish Tank: A Fable for Our Times by Scott…
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Fish Tank: A Fable for Our Times

by Scott Bischke

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This would be a great selection for a middle school English or Science class. The writing is forthright and easy enough for even struggling readers.

The book was written as an allegory for our current social battle concerning global warming but it contains the reasons for the battle if the readers discuss and explore.

Cognitive dissonance features strongly in this book, although it is not labeled as such. As with many societal ills, present and historical, cognitive dissonance is a larger than life foe.

In the Fish Tank there are two small groups of leaders/activists. One side is concerned with the welfare of all and the other sides is only concerned with itself. Those concerned with the welfare of all see the dangers and try to come up with a solution to solve the problem. Those only concerned with themselves feel that the loss of life on the part of others is acceptable for their purposes.

Almost everyone in between suffers from cognitive dissonance at some point in time. It is easier to deny reality if it suits the needs of the moment. The various sea creatures who can not be qualified as "ringleaders" allow themselves to be convinced all is well, because it is easier than making a change in their habits.

In addition to exploring cognitive dissonance, the book touches on responsibility. August was paid to take care of the aquarium. It would not have been an extreme burden to care for it properly, yet he almost immediately defaulted to looking for a shortcut. And the shortcut took construction and ingenuity to be sure. But like the oil spills of recent years, negligence led to disaster.

There are multiple behaviors and psychological factors that can and should be discussed upon reading this book.

This book is not for someone who wants to be entertained and dazzled. This book is for thinkers and problem solvers.


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  Angelina-Justice | Feb 3, 2014 |
The Professor must leave his beloved fish tank in the hand of Augustus "Against Us" for a year while he goes to save some endangered seahorses near Australia. Augustus rigs up a feeding barrel so that he does not have to make weekly trips to take care of the fish tank. The food levels are going down faster than expected and a crack is developing in the corner of the tank as the temperature of the water increases. Follow the desperation and actions the aquarium occupants take to survive while waiting for their beloved professor to return.

Good character development and great pacing. ( )
  bemislibrary | May 26, 2013 |
I won this from the Goodreads First Reads Giveaway.

I enjoyed reading this book. It caused me to feel a wide range of emotions as I got into the story and became attached to the characters. It reminded me a lot of Animal Farm, so if you've read that and enjoyed it I'm sure you would enjoy this book too. ( )
  Barb_H | Apr 2, 2013 |
This book is about a rag-tag group of aquarium dwellers that were grouped together by Professor Brown to keep his endangered seahorses company. When the professor gets an unexpected offer of a paid year long sabbatical to Australia, he jumps at the chance but has to leave his beloved aquarium in the hands of a lazy handyman whose stewardship is haphazard and unreliable. How Professor Brown's fish (and crabs, seahorses, shrimp, etc) react to their suddenly perilous existence is the basis of this tale.

This is a great book to use with children to teach them about a number of topics. This allegorical tale about a group of salt water critters and how they deal with their changing environment is a perfect introduction to the obvious topic of climate change and resource scarcity. However given the way that the fish, crabs, and such interact, it's also a good teaching tool for conflict resolution, how decisions are made, ethics and even death.

At 125 pages it's easy for both kids and adults to read quickly. The short chapters with strongly delineated characters lend themselves to lively discussion. It's a fun book despite the desperate straits that the inhabitants find themselves in. ( )
  dketelsen | Oct 10, 2012 |
This was a neat little book. It was quite a fast read - even my 11 year old was able to finish it in one day after school. Fish Tank was well written and thoroughly good at conveying its message. I found the allegory a little on-the-nose, but it seems like it would be great in a classroom setting with younger readers. It did make me ponder the world we live in and my own reactions to the changes I see going on around me. ( )
  carmelitasita29 | Jun 15, 2012 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0982594712, Paperback)

FISH TANK is an insightful allegory about the human condition, tackling issues of politics and power, limited resources and climate change.  A free discussion guide is available for download to book clubs and teachers--see emountainworks.com/Books.aspx.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:22:32 -0400)

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