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A Fuse #8 Production
Inside A Fuse #8 Production

Fuse 8 n’ Kate: A Fish Out of Water by Helen Palmer, ill. P.D. Eastman

For whatever reason, Kate and I spoke for a whopping 45 minutes about today’s book. Somehow, Kate (who is our editor on all this) cut it down to mere 28 minutes, which is a feat worth remarking. We tackle whether or not “Helen Palmer” was or was not Dr. Seuss (the answer is far more complicated than you might think). We delve into what kind of reputation Mr. Carp must have to be on the watch list of both the police and the firemen. And now we have to research when fluoride entered the drinking water and when chlorine entered the public pools. It’s important!

Listen to the whole show here on Soundcloud or download it through iTunes, Stitcher, Google Play, PlayerFM, or your preferred method of podcast selection.

Show Notes:

As we now know, in its original incarnation, this story began its life as Gustav the Goldfish by Dr. Seuss (originally appearing in Redbook magazine in June 1950). It only became A Fish Out of Water when Seuss’s wife Helen adapted it to the easy book format.

Why should you worry that the water here appears to be choked with algae when Mr. Carp is rocking these hot as heck arm garters?

If you were the fish, what would you be saying at this point? This is the first moment that Otto starts to show any kind of emotion and we feel in need of finding a phrase that befits his current situation.

According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the heaviest goldfish of all times was 2 pounds. As a result, we are not impressed by this feat of strength at all. Sorry, kid.

“Fluoridation became an official policy of the U.S. Public Health Service by 1951, and by 1960 water fluoridation had become widely used in the U.S., reaching about 50 million people.” So sayeth Wikipedia. So perhaps it is possible that this water has an excuse for this color:

Who flooded it better? This book, the bathroom scene from The Shape of Water, or the one in Paddington? You be the judge.

I want to give a shout out to P.D. Eastman on the loving care he gave to this broiler in the basement.

I have always been very disturbed by how P.D. Eastman draws butts. Kate was reduced to giggles over these (in her words) “butt-munching pants”. A wedgie for all time.

Why did P.D. Eastman decide to name this fire department the “ZFD”. What does the “Z” stand for?

Otto thoughts: “So. This is it. This is the way I’m gonna go. Attached to a firetruck, full of the Keystone Cops of firemen.”

Kate’s research into what happens to a goldfish when it enters chlorine is truly the most horrific thing I’ve ever heard on this show. So when did they start chlorinating public pools? To this question I could find no answer.

I just love that some bizarre combination of these tools shrunk the fish. This reminds me of the final hat of the dog in Go, Dog. Go! A mop and/or spider would not have been out of place.

Our recent episode about The Cow That Sneezed caused our listener Christine to write in, “Listening to this episode reminded me of  Stand Back,” Said the Elephant, “I’m Going to Sneeze!” Think I’ll go read it.” Here is the link:

And here’s the Ninja Warrior squirrel video that Kate and I were both obsessed with this week:

About Elizabeth Bird

Elizabeth Bird is currently the Collection Development Manager of the Evanston Public Library system and a former Materials Specialist for New York Public Library. She has served on Newbery, written for Horn Book, and has done other lovely little things that she'd love to tell you about but that she's sure you'd find more interesting to hear of in person. Her opinions are her own and do not reflect those of EPL, SLJ, or any of the other acronyms you might be able to name. Follow her on Twitter: @fuseeight.


  1. Mel Schuit says

    Hahah Betsy! I just watched the squirrel ninja course over the weekend and thought it was the best thing ever!!