The Boy Who Swam with Piranhas (Paperback)
When Stanley Potts’s guardian, Uncle Ernie, develops an unhealthy obsession with fish, Stan has no choice but to strike out on his own. Far from the life he knows, he’s welcomed by a carnival of eccentric characters, including the legendary Pancho Pirelli, the man who swims with piranhas. Will Stan, too, be bold enough to dive into the churning waters and choose his destiny? Full of wry wordplay and visual whimsy, David Almond’s quirky tale is richly matched by Oliver Jeffers’s black-and-white illustrations.
—Booklist (starred review)
A buoyant, delightfully Almond-ine coming-of-age novel about fish, fate and family; moonlight, madness and myth; runts, “Rackanruwin” and, finally, redemption.
—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
Readers who have read Almond’s other books will be entertained by the decisions Stan makes, especially when he leaves home, as many youngsters fantasize about that.
—Library Media Connection
This has some of the fantasy quality of a Roald Dahl novel but without the dark heart that lies at the core of many of Dahl’s works. Almond’s narrative is both quirky and dreamlike, and the kindness of many of the characters propels it forward with positive energy. The present-tense narration is sometimes lyrical, sometimes straightforward or confiding, and the combination of these styles is surprisingly effective. Almond has a deft touch with the moonlight and mysticism, allowing readers to linger a bit in the mystery but at the same time unspooling the tale’s trajectory purposefully and thoughtfully. Jeffers’ frequent and slightly offbeat monochromatic illustrations are well matched to Almond’s whimsical text. ... [A] real catch.
—Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
Master storyteller Almond combines delicious wordplay, zany antics, wacky characters, and a bit of magical realism in a novel that touches the heart. Quick-paced, accessible, and enhanced by stylized cartoonlike drawings, this book is sure to be enjoyed by fans of humorous, quirky stories.
—School Library Journal
Almond ventures far afield from the almost hallucinatory magical realism that characterized his earliest work, offering up some lighthearted fare for a younger audience. This book, complete with old-fashioned intrusive narrator and numerous spot illustrations, seems to have more in common with the work of Roald Dahl or Frank Cottrell Boyce; yet the silliness is tempered by an unsentimental, clear-eyed wisdom, marking it unmistakably as the work of Almond.
—The Horn Book
Bold, imaginative, and funny, Stanley’s bigger-than-life escapades will tickle imaginations.
With its quirky humor, fantastical plot and delightful illustrations by Oliver Jeffers, The Boy Who Swam with Piranhas is a perfect book for end-of-summer reading.
Roald Dahl fans take note: David Almond's The Boy Who Swam With Piranhas has all the makings of one of Dahl's classic coming-of-age tales.