Ursula Upside Down

HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray. May 2024. 40p. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9780063275560.
PreS-Gr 2–Tabor really does a number on readers with this one, electing as the main character a species of catfish that swims upside down. But that’s later. Ursula is minding her own business, being pink and whiskery, as catfish are, and loving the colors of the water, which are quite beautiful in teals and mint greens, with splashes of turquoise and coral. Ursula is content until another fish asks why she’s swimming upside down. This flips her world. When she tries swimming “right way up,” she sends herself out of the water and on to the very dangerous shore. Luckily, a helpful bat kindly rolls her into the water and suggests that maybe the way Ursula does it is right for her after all. Of course this is a lesson about identity, marching to the beat of a different drum, and general differences, but it’s also about buzzkill and how someone’s unkind comment, no matter how innocently uttered, can change the day. The pacing is perfect and the typeface treatment breaks all the rules, with sentences that tell readers (or read-alouders) when to turn the book in the other direction to facilitate viewing the words. Who could not love Ursula? To find out she is based on a real species is a fact no child will forget.
VERDICT Funny, real, and makes a delicious point without spelling it out; this book is a charmer.

Be the first reader to comment.

Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing