Score: 94/100 (9.4 out of 10)
The Adventures of Arya & Krishna Betta Fish is such a pleasant, happy, entertaining animal story following two betta fish, Arya and Krishna, as they try to find their parents (who were sold before them). It's a wild, chaotic, fun adventure full of twists and turns!
One of the best things about this book is the variety of different fish characters that the bettas ally themselves with. Along the way, Arya and Krishna meet Blake & Sharktooth (two other betta fish), Feo (a catfish), and Ash (a koi fish).
They even make a few human friends like Aaron, Annie, and Amer, giving children a few more child character to get behind. After all, the main target audience would probably be young pet owners, particularly ones who own fish.
All of these characters are so different from one another and interesting in their own separate ways. Blake & Sharktooth serve as foils to the main characters, being more familiar with their parents than they are while also being of the same species. Despite this, they have their fears of the koi in the pond who they view as potentially dangerous to them. Our protagonists are able to instill them with confidence to confront their fears. Then there's Feo, a very goofy catfish who playfully almost commits bettacide, something that fish in tanks are known to do. We even know of a lucky arowana that did it in a Chinese restaurant. Ash is interesting because of his size and age (being 25 years old). Koi in general are such magnificent fish. We later also meet two other bettas named Amita and Gabe who are also great to meet (and named after the two creators of the book).
Another thing that we really appreciated about this book were the various obstacles and things that the fish go through. The fish experience the excitement (and trauma) of being purchased, relocated, captured, and being nearly eaten (by a bear, red-tailed hawk, and fisherman). They experience the temperature changing in their tanks and pond. That is detailed so well, especially for a children's book. We also get excited when they get excited. For example, when the fish realize that they can eat the mayflies in their environment, we're happy for them.
Lastly, the illustrations are cute and amazing with the only critique being that proportions are inaccurate sometimes (the bettas are sometimes the size of a person's head). However, that's understandable and fine as it's not supposed to be taken overly seriously or be realistic. This is like a cartoon. It's like Finding Nemo. There's a fish with eyeglasses for goodness sakes. So critiquing realism would be pretty ridiculous. We really liked the illustrations. They must look even better in color!
This book was right up our alley. Some of us raised and bred different kinds of fish including bettas (fighting fish)! Ironically, one of Steven Seril's earliest creative stories was “Fish Wars”--a book about fighting fish trying to survive against meaner fish in Asia.
Something to note about this book is that it's actually more of a middle-grade or chapter book (at over 100 pages long), but these are short, easy pages. We only found one error (a period outside of the quotation mark), so the writing is quite good. Like we said before, it's surprisingly detailed.
Your older kids might love reading this book about two sibling fish trying to reunite with their parents.
Check it out on Amazon!