Title: Shao-Sen: The Story of a Fish
Type: Novella – Picture Book
Age: 9 and up
A young trout fish wants to gain knowledge, but will be ostracized by her friends if she does. Her choice ultimately affects not only her personal journey, but the very survival of all her clan.
Told with the whimsy of The Wind in the Willows, the lyricism of an Irish folktale, and the depth of a myth, Shao-Sen is a multi-level allegory about the importance of being true to yourself, in the setting of an environmental catastrophe.
Shao-Sen was born a long time ago. Well, that is not quite correct, for fish do not normally have names. So perhaps we should say that “the-fish-who-was-to-be-named-Shao-Sen” was born a long time ago. But that is much too awkward. So for now we shall just call her “this little fish.”
This little fish swam contentedly with her school in a stream under a small dam and waterwheel that drives a tannery.
One day they swim by a large fish hiding under a flat rock. Frightened, they all flee.
“That’s just Old Ureg,” they tell her. “He thinks he has knowledge, but we just think he is crazy.”
This little fish decides she would like knowledge, to know what is really true. She begins a friendship with Old Ureg, but it causes trouble with her friends who begin to think her “weird.” Where will this quest for knowledge lead her?
Later, she goes on an adventure with the eagle ee-Uahn who gives her the name Shao-Sen and takes her to the source of her stream in the Mountains. Shortly after returning to her home, a leak in a container of chemicals at the tannery threatens to kill all of her clan. Can Shao-Sen save them?
Shao-Sen is a story about a small fish that makes a big difference. It’s about courage to go outside the box, and the importance of knowledge and communication. It will stay in your mind like a beautiful jewel.
Åsa Stenström – Copy writer – Gotland, Sweden
Drawings by Maria Manness