Who Fed Zed?
Allen & Unwin, 2021
32pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99
This is a picture book about Ted, Ned and Fred, Fred’s dog, Jed, and Fred’s fish, Zed.
Zed the fish is white and red.
His poo hangs down in one long thread.
The main thing, though, is what Fred said,
‘NEVER, EVER FEED ZED BREAD.’
Because feeding fish bread can kill them and although Zed survives this incident there are other problems that he is faced with.
This is a clever story that will engage young readers with its rhyming text and retro feel. Teachers may well pick up on it because it appears to feed perfectly into the current push for phonics and “sounding out” to be THE way to teach reading but within the first eight lines there are three different ways of spelling the “ed” sound demonstrating not only the complexity of the English language and its spelling, but also the trickiness in teaching by this method and the confusion children feel when confronted by it, particularly as English is full of such anomalies.
That said, young children will love to listen to the poem as it carries them along on a wave of rhythm and they will be surprised by its ending. They might even be ready to explore how the author created that rhythm paying attention to elements such as the number of syllables, whether they are long or short, stressed or unstressed to make a beat and thus the cadence of our language. They might even want to create a list of other words that rhyme with Zed that the author might have chosen, thus building their vocabulary and spelling knowledge.
But above all, and most importantly, it’s a story that will resonate with any young readers who have either a goldfish or a dog with fleas, or perhaps both.