John Himmelman's Stories' Stories
Book #14
Ellen and the Goldfish
Story and Pictures by John Himmelman
April 1990
Harper & Row

To my "Little Bits", whose smiles will 
always brighten my world.

I was talking on the phone with my friend Ellen back in '88, and she told me a story about a goldfish. Its pond was near where she had her lunch at work, and the fish would come up to greet her whenever she arrived. She'd read it stories, share a snack - they enjoyed each other's company.

That was the inspiration for this book. 

The story is about a girl named Ellen who befriends a goldfish. She communicates via drawings on paper - and feeds it. In time the overfed goldfish becomes a target for fishermen. Ellen saves the day with a drawing.

Oh yeah, I wanted to mention that I always liked "Story and Pictures by" better than "Written and Illustrated by" - sounds more picturebooky? What do you think?
Look at what the designer did for the book cover! It's my goldfish - embossed in gold! I love that little detail!
Here's the sequence of Ellen overfeeding the goldfish, who is never given a name, by the way. I'd drawn the last one too small, so I cut out a separate painting of just the fish and glued it over the original. Only the art director would know my little secret...  

Ellen urges the fish to escape from the little pond, which it had outgrown and is overrun with fishermen, to the nearby lake. I wasn't happy with the original right hand part of the spread, so I redid that half and glued the new one it over it. The gutter in the book hid where the halves were joined.
This is the final page showing the picture Ellen drew for the goldfish. 

Um, look familiar? 

Free Willy-ish, maybe? 

I did it first.

That frog is in nearly every picture, like the ladybug in Snuggle Piggy and the Magic Blanket 
and the Amanda books.