Bubble Homes and Fish Farts by Fiona Bayrock
Illustrated by Carolyn Conahan
On the strength of several reviews a couple months ago, I went out and got Bubble Homes and Fish Farts by Fiona Bayrock and Illustrated by Carolyn Conahan. I read it through quickly and found it quite good. I thought it would be over the head of my 6-year old, but I also thought that this book may help turn her into a junior naturalist. We learn a lot looking at the world around us and books like Bubble Homes and Fish Farts help us know what to look for and how to look. In particular, this book helps explain how animals use bubbles to survive and thrive in their environment.
My family spends a lot of time exploring a local lake in kayaks or sailboats and we enjoy looking for cool stuff. My 6-year old has an old root beer bottle with a cap that she uses to collect her lake specimens, usually weeds and other floating stuff. She’s already beginning to look closely at nature. As we read through the book last night I spent time talking about what we might find in the lake that’s making those bubbles we see from time to time. Now, we have even more things to look for now. I then reminded her of the spittlebugs inside the foamy bubbles on many of the plants in the neighborhood that we look at while walking the dog. All this was fun for her and made a connection in her mind.
Along the way in this book, I did learn about fish FaRTs, that is, Fast Repetitive Ticks. Herring, at night, swallow air and pass it out the other end, possibly using this to communicate amongst themselves in the dark ocean waters. There’s an experiment for you – how do you test the communication theory? I remember when I was young, and way up north in the frigid taconite country of Hibbing, Minnesota. In winter we’d all be outside shivering and talking excitedly but never hear a word that another was saying. Our words froze up in our breath and fell onto the snow covered playground with hushed clunks. We’d pick a few of our frozen conversations up and take them inside, where they’d thaw out and produce a random, nonsense conversation as our words escaped their frosty prisons. Maybe herring farts will be like that. We just need to pop the bubbles to hear what they’re saying. I can see a research grant proposal here! Stranger ones have been funded.