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The Boy Who Swam with Piranhas

by David Almond

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2065129,846 (3.69)15
"Stanley Potts's uncle Ernie has developed an over-the-top fascination with canning fish in the house, and life at 69 Fish Quay Lane has turned balmy. But there's darkness in the madness, and when Uncle Ernie's obsession takes an unexpectedly cruel turn, Stan has no choice but to leave. As he journeys away from the life he's always known, he mingles with a carnival full of eccentric characters and meets the legendary Pancho Pirelli, the man who swims in a tank full of perilous piranhas. Will Stan be bold enough to dive in the churning waters himself and choose his own destiny?"--Description from Amazon.com, viewed July 31, 2013.… (more)
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English (4)  Spanish (1)  All languages (5)
Showing 4 of 4
Stanley Potts lives with his aunt and uncle and has a pretty good life until his uncle loses his job, goes a bit batty, and decides to turn their house into a canning factory. After Uncle Ernie makes a very poor decision that results in a traumatic incident for Stanley, Stanley runs away from home to join a traveling carnival. He meets all sorts of interesting characters and starts an unlikely career as The Boy Who Swims with the Piranhas.

I love this quirky-but-lovely book. Stanley is such a great character: complex in his quiet confidence and empathetic manners. And the other characters are strange and rich and wonderful, too. Almond is a great storyteller, and I highly recommend this one. ( )
  scaifea | Jul 14, 2021 |
children's middlegrade fiction--reminiscent of Roald Dahl's zany characters and a bit of Neil Gaiman's murky darkness. ( )
  reader1009 | Jul 3, 2021 |
Ever since Stanley Pott's parents died, he has been living with his aunt and uncle. They're great, really. But Stan's uncle recently got the taste for canning fish, and he has turned the whole house into a can factory – he's used up every room to the point where Stan lives in a cupboard, waiting for his uncle to get over his fish canning passion.

But when his aunt and uncle are suddenly thrown out of their house by the department of fishy business and his uncle cooks twelve of Stan's beloved gold fish; he sees no other choice but to leave. Thankfully, there's a circus in town and they offer to take Stan along with them. Suddenly, he is on a true adventure where he doesn't only have to clean plastic ducks and give out prices but he also searches for tents that suddenly appear out of nowhere and he meets the eccentric but brilliant Pancho Pirelli who is able to swim in a tank full of piranhas without getting as much as a chew on his ankle.

Pancho Pirelli sees something in Stanley, and offers to train him to take his place one day. But is Stanley bold and brave enough to dive into a tank of piranhas, and make his own destiny?

Stanley is honestly such a wonderful character. He is sweet, caring and has such a heart of gold – it is hard not to love him from the first page. He hasn't had any easy life but he is so concerned about all living things, and even makes sure the fish that he has to give as prices at the circus are well taken care of by making the winners sign a contract where they promise to take well care of the fish.

It's a hilarious and sweet story about bravery but also about family and caring about others than yourself. It is definitely a children's book but it's just as entertaining at the age of nineteen; at least almost, anyway. But I guess the difference is that a child would consider it an adventure story whilst I want to categorise it as a story about family and love.

God, I wish I could be more like Stanley Pott. Just a little bit. We should all be more like Stanley Pott. It definitely wouldn't hurt. But I guess every circus would be over-crowded with no actual audience if that was the case. Oh well. ( )
  autisticluke | Nov 14, 2019 |
Response - This book is perfect for upper elementary and even middle school. The characters and events are quirky, whimsical, and endearing. Yet, the author communicates lessons about confronting fears, kindness, and confidence. The chapters are short, making for easy, effective reading. Some features reminded me of Roald Dahl’s style.

Curricular connection - read aloud, reading groups; lessons on confidence, self-discovery and identify
  jegammon | Feb 8, 2015 |
Showing 4 of 4
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
David Almondprimary authorall editionscalculated
Jeffers, OliverIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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"Stanley Potts's uncle Ernie has developed an over-the-top fascination with canning fish in the house, and life at 69 Fish Quay Lane has turned balmy. But there's darkness in the madness, and when Uncle Ernie's obsession takes an unexpectedly cruel turn, Stan has no choice but to leave. As he journeys away from the life he's always known, he mingles with a carnival full of eccentric characters and meets the legendary Pancho Pirelli, the man who swims in a tank full of perilous piranhas. Will Stan be bold enough to dive in the churning waters himself and choose his own destiny?"--Description from Amazon.com, viewed July 31, 2013.

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