FISH TANK: A Fable for Our Times
Reader Reviews from GoodReads
FISH TANK is the ANIMAL FARM
for our times. The two books would make a great pair to teach together.
—Dr. Pete Coppolillo, Ecologist and Executive Director of Working Dogs for Conservation
In FISH TANK, the author represents planet Earth as a fish
tank, and humanity as a bunch of talking fish of different species, interests
and motivations engulfed in a very peculiar situation. What results is a
clever and fascinating fable that provides an insightful mirror on the folly of
current human attitudes concerning climate change and global degradation. Some
people like graphs and data, the IPCC reports are written for them. But others
connect better with concepts, imagery and storytelling, and for them FISH TANK
should be compelling. It’s hard not to contemplate if the human species is
reaching some similar decision points, and a happy face outcome is not
—Dr. Steven W. Running, Nobel Laureate as a member
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Department of Ecosystem and
Conservation Sciences, University of Montana
Fables have been part of human history since we began
sharing stories around a campfire. The modern world, with instant communication
and based on facts, offers little room for creative storytelling, especially
ones that have a moral or lesson attached to them. FISH TANK is a throwback to
the times of Aesop with a very modern and imminently relevant message.
Children and adults alike will understand the predicament of the denizens of
the aquarium and the parallel to humanity as we power ourselves into the 21st
century. Take it as a great story, but know that it is real. If FISH TANK gets
10 people to adjust their life style it will have made a difference.
—Conrad Anker, elite mountaineer and
THE LOST EXPLORER: FINDING MALLORY ON MOUNT EVEREST
[FISH TANK’s] message [is] that the self interest of the
few can undermine the achievement of a common good….I think FISH TANK could
benefit young adults in the same way LORD OF THE FLIES benefitted previous generations,
helping them understand that bad things can happen when self interested people
are not kept in check. It might also help some adults see our current
situation with greater clarity.
—Peter Cook, High School Teacher, Melbourne Australia
This story of life in the aquarium is eerily similar to
contemporary events outside the tank. FISH TANK is a good
read, but more than that, it is a story about the forces of greed against the
power of determination and collaboration.
—Dr. Cathy Whitlock, Director of the Montana Institute
Ecosystems, Montana State University
Frank and sometimes brutally
honest, this is a tale of oppression of the group by the few who benefit
—Dr. Robert Gresswell, USGS
Bischke serves up a cautionary tale both entertaining and
dire—a cast of characters we recognize, and a message we ignore at our peril.
—Alan Kesselheim, author of LET
THEM PADDLE: COMING OF AGE ON THE WATER and ten other books
This is a great allegory—I
can really see the political stereotypes and how they parallel our society.
The characters are universally western, not just American. We all know people
like the fish in FISH TANK. I really liked that the book did not leave
you hopeless, that there is good that will last. I read the book very quickly
because I could not put it down! I would love my friends to read it and think
the book would be a good book club book.
—Gwen Laurie, former book store
owner from Canada, age 78
FISH TANK is a real eye opener! It depicts today's current
social and environmental issues in a simplified way eliminating the confusing
political and economic jargon which clouds the urgency of these concerns. It
truly is a book for all ages because the future of our planet depends on
everyone, not just a single generation.
—Brittney Iverson, Marine Biologist
I liked [FISH TANK]
ALOT. One of the things I saw was the school culture that exists
both at the middle school and the high school—the bully behavior—the trust
issues—the respect that is given and missing. It was all there. And
on another level, I could see the whole creation, God care, expectation, loss
and recovery. It would make a great book club read!
—Nancy Jordheim, Asst.
Superintendent, Fargo ND Public Schools
I think that [FISH TANK] was a great read. The storyline was
great and the conflict was interesting and made you think about what the
creatures could’ve [ done]….For me the moral/message of the book was not to be
greedy, to be aware of your surroundings. Greediness can never lead to
happiness and if you’re self centered it affects the people around you. To me,
the book said that you need to listen to people. Being a know-it-all is never
the way to go. Sometimes you’re not always right.
—Annie, student, age 13
FISH TANK [is] a great read for all ages. It has many
different layers that appeal to people of all reading levels, from the
enchanting characters and plot to the deeper messages that leave you thinking.
I was really able to relate the issues and characters in FISH TANK to issues
and people that I deal with in my life. FISH TANK leaves you thinking about
the role you play in our society and challenging yourself do better. It is a
must read for all ages!
—Tessa, student, age 14
FISH TANK demands discussion. As I finished it I wanted to
explore the connections and ideas more with someone. Given the concerns
brought up in the book, I want to know how it will go for us humans? I am
trying to see my place in it all—who am I? What am I doing in my
world? How am I contributing to the problem or solutions? Do I need to
change? I need to ponder the book’s ending. Is there hope? Does anyone have
—Joan Exley, Community Literacy Coordinator, Province
An important story for our times. Let
he who doesn't live in a glass aquarium cast the first stone!
—Otto Pohl, entrepreneur and international journalist
Not only is FISH TANK a page
turner, it is an important wake-up call as we head towards catastrophe with our
heads in the sand. Even sea-creatures have conflicts of interest, and in
FISH TANK we see a story about how those that stood to make short-term gains
endangered all life—surely this is the most important story of our modern
society. By telling it as an allegory, and encouraging readers to see the
parallels with humanity, Bischke’s book could have a profound impact.
—Dr. Raina Plowright, DVM and PhD Ecologist
A fun, poignant exploration
of human nature! [FISH TANK] reaches
beyond the story of climate change and invites readers to look at the human
dynamics that drive so many of the challenges faced by society.
—Kate Burnaby Wright,
FISH TANK is an honest portrayal
of the social dynamics that prevent us from confronting the problem of climate
change. The events in FISH TANK demonstrate that our
instinct to survive as individuals is much stronger than our instinct to
survive as a species. The story challenges readers to rise above these base
instincts and make the choice to face the problem together.
—Natalie Meyer, Sustainability Director, City of Bozeman
TANK is] a great
and important story—one that I hope will resonate with all who read it...It is
a good way to talk about climate change and show how just one degree
increase in temperature at a time can go unnoticed and have disastrous results.
We are on our own to solve the world's environmental problems and we must
not listen to nay-sayers who will only realize our plight when the sky comes
Vandel, Owner, Les Overhead Advertising
Although found in the fiction section, FISH TANK is truly
a non-fiction story of our times with the [xxx] playing the part of the
one percent. We can't be as foolish or complacent as the fishes. We can't be
in denial like the fishes. Just as the “Occupy” movement has shouted its
intolerance for corporate greed and corruption, it's time we do the same when
it comes to climate. We need a revelation. FISH TANK forces you to
realize just that.
—Kelly Matheson, Program
Manager, WITNESS, NYC
see glimpses of oil executives, or even commercial fishermen who are the
biggest nay-sayers on depleting fish stocks even as it is harder and harder for
them to catch their limit. People are quite shortsighted about climate change,
huh? … Also, Celia thinks the animals would not be so altruistic to not
eventually eat the [xxx] when times got tough. I hope that doesn't happen in
our world, but have you seen Mad Max?
—Chris Slater, 7th grade English Teacher,
Celia, student, age 14
An entertaining and enlightening tale, FISH TANK is
especially pertinent in this age of global climate change. FISH TANK
offers an insightful commentary on the way politics, policies, and our social
structures combine to create the world in which we live. The reader finds
himself wondering, "Is this the world we want to live in, to leave for our
children? Can't we do better than this?" FISH TANK is a must read for
anyone who cares about the future health of our planet...hopefully that's
and Dennis Iverson, Education Specialist & HP Manager
All throughout I interpreted the book to be about oil
consumption and global warming. I think it would be a nice tool around Earth
Day to get students thinking about these issues….I think the book’s message is
many-fold: moral, ethical, practical….[O]ne message of the book is certainly
hope and the beauty of human ingenuity.
—Susan Buhlman, Court Stenographer
Reading FISH TANK I was repeatedly reminded of how we
wrestle satisfying both personal and community goals; and how the details of
human nature influence—for good or bad—complex issues like climate change.
—Chris Mehl, City
Commissioner, City of Bozeman Montana
FISH TANK is exactly the type of book that I love to read
and discuss. On one level, it is an enchanting story that draws the
reader in…I can read it purely for entertainment value. But, there is
also a deeper side…that captures the reader's attention and challenges them to
think about their own role in contributing to the health and well-being of this
planet that we all call our home.
—Jody Ouradnik, Education Curriculum Content Designer
[FISH TANK lays] out the
dynamics of making decisions in the face of uncertainty and how power plays and
denial can make the decisions so much harder. And there was a real
emotional impact…For me it worked well both as an allegory and a story.
—Kathy Brewer, Hewlett-Packard Environmental Engineer
[FISH TANK is] a good story with a message—don’t believe
everything you are told and think for yourself! We are all in this boat, tank,
—Dr. Janet Lindsley, Professor
of Biochemistry, University of Utah and Stuart Vandel, Federal Reserve Bank examiner
loved FISH TANK…The message is at once hopeful while realizing its impending
tragedy. It is regretful that everything must be so polarized….Perhaps
the children of the 21st century will usher in a
renewed sense of collaboration between environmentalists and industry.
—Hattie Baker, Climate Change and Sustainability Consultant
By peer pressure, misleading scientific data, fear, and our
own stubborn nature to change, [FISH TANK] clearly shows why most people choose
not to believe we have a real problem on our hands.
—Bob Eichenberger, Business Manager, BOZEMAN DAILY
FISH TANK is so much more than a fable. It is a call
to action to everyone who loves life and feels compassion in their hearts.
It is a call to action to the privileged and powerful to act on the good
within…. It is a call to action to the unions, to the workers, to the
masses, who together can stand up to the corruption of the powerful. It
is a call to action to the experts and our climate leaders to tell it straight
and spread the solutions far and wide. It is a call to action to
everyone, not to bury our heads in the sand and ignore what is right in front
of our eyes while hoping for that Hollywood ending. It is a reminder to
governments not to abuse the trust in which we have placed the well-being of
this generation and the next. And it is a reminder, that when inspired and with
timely action and a bit of personal sacrifice, we all can make a difference and
change our fate, but only if we beat the tipping points. Scott Bischke
opens floodgates of feeling for humanity and other species in this important
—Julia Olson, mother and Executive Director, Our Children's
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