Hi Everyone! In honor of Mother’s Day, I’m sharing this updated post from 2014 about a book that was a favorite with my kids and made me sentimental about my own childhood. It was published in 1996, but you can still get it online and maybe at your library!
Tommy’s Mommy’s Fish
Nancy Dingman Watson
Illustrated by Thomas Aldren Wingman Watson
When my kids were little, we found this book at our local library. It was on display and there was something that pulled us to it. We loved the cover picture of a young boy on the beach, holding a fishing rod, dog at his side.
In this special story, Tommy lives with his family on the ocean beach and he wants to give his mother a birthday present, all from him. His older brother and sisters are busy making their own gifts for their mother. Cammie is making a bayberry candle, Caitlin is making beach-plum jelly and Peter is cutting a pile of locust logs to fit the fireplace. They let him help. “You can help me, and we can give it to her together,” Caitlin offers. Cammie and Peter make similar offers, but Tommy says no, “I wanted it to be a present all from me,” he tells us.
Tommy is determined to give his mother something special and decides to catch her a fish, “And it isn’t going to be any little old sand dabber or a funny-looking thing like a goosefish or a sea robin. It’s going to be a STRIPED BASS.”
Tommy stands at the surf with his pole and waits. Gulls pass, the sunlight fades, the moon makes a “bright golden path over the water.” Tommy knows that patience is best when he finally hooks a big fat silver bass, but who will win the battle in the surf?
My kids loved this picture of the fish. The artwork in this book is terrific!
I love this book for a couple reasons. First, the story is just plain nice. I love family stories with dynamics between brothers and sisters. I love how these kids aren’t buying their mother anything, they are thinking of things to make, things that she will like. The second thing I like is the hard-to-explain, but very real way the book makes me feel, especially when Tommy faces the big fish. I don’t want to spoil the story, but I love Tommy’s narration of this moment.
So if you’re looking for a nice “old-school” kind of book, with a warm family feel, check this out, even if there aren’t any little ones around!
Nancy Dingman Watson (1933-2001) was an American author of more than 25 children’s books, novels and poetry books, including Blueberries Lavender, When Is Tomorrow and Tommy’s Mommy’s Fish, which was illustrated by her son and re-released in 1996.
Ms. Watson was born in Paterson, New Jersey and grew up in Ho-Ho-Kus, New Jersey. She attended Wheaton College and earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Smith College. She married Aldren Watson in 1941 and made a home in Putney, Vermont where she spent thirty years raising eight children. In the sixties, Ms. Watson wrote for the column “One Woman’s View.” She was a two-time finalist in the Allen Ginsburg poetry competition, and wrote an award-winning musical, Princess! Later in her life, she sailed across the Atlantic with her second husband, Dutch sailor Fokke Van Bekkum, in their 32-foot sailboat.
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15 thoughts on “Book Review: Tommy’s Mommy’s Fish by Nancy Dingman Watson”
Sounds like a beautiful story for our children, especially for Mother’s Day 🙂
Yes! Thanks, Rosaliene 🙂
Happy Mother’s Day. 🌺
Thank you, Lynette!
It is good to read about this family favourite
I wish I had a copy – no grandchildren yet, but maybe I should get it ahead of the kiddies!
You never know, Barbara 🙂
Sounds like a book to add to my grandson’s library!
Oh I bet you and he would love the book. It’s very New-Englandy! Thanks for the visit, Noelle 🙂
I just got it in the mail and will read it myself tonight!
I wish I knew about this book when my kids and grandkids were little. I guess it could be gift. . . . Thanks, Barbara!
Hi Marian – we just happened on it – it became a favorite! Thank you for reading and commenting 🙂
HI Barbara, this book also sounds lovely. I’m enjoying your reviews of children’s books.
Oh thank you, Robbie. It’s a hard one to get your hands on now. Our library system used to have a copy, but the book must have worn out. I know my kids tore a page once that had to be repaired 😉
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