Reading/Interest Level: Preschool, Primary
Author: Candace Fleming
Illustrator: Boris Kulikov
Papa is always in his workshop trying to invent something. None of his creations ever come to fruition until one afternoon, when Papa takes the family fishing and wonders what it would be like to be a fish. Inspired, Papa determines to create a mechanical fish capable of holding a passenger inside. His Whitefish I sinks to the bottom of the pond. Whitefish II and Whitefish III follow suit. But Whitefish IV takes the whole family on an underwater adventure fit for a fish.
This fictionalized biography tells the story of inventor Lodner Phillips, who set out to patent what would become the first submarine. An author’s note at the back of the book clarifies which pieces of the book are true and which were invented and provides additional information and sources on the life of Lodner Phillips. Bright, painted illustrations paired with pencil-drawn submarine plans serve to approximate Phillips’ inventing process. Papa’s Mechanical Fish reminds us that failure is not the end of creativity, but rather the impetus of it.