Reviews – The Day I Swapped My Dad For Two Goldfish

From the December 12, 2004 Sunday Telegraph:

…The Day I Swapped My Dad for Two Goldfish by Neil Gaiman ad Dave McKean (Bloomsbury, pounds 12.99) is another example of perfect writer/artist symbiosis, with McKean’s special blend of graphics, collage and fine art feeding off the wit and perfect timing of Gaiman’s text. Having swapped his father, permanently attached to his newspaper, for two goldfish, a boy tries to trade him back only to find that he has been swapped on. The boy and his sister follow the trail of swaps which eventually leads to a rabbit named Galveston and the father – still reading his newspaper – in a hutch. One of the most desirable books of the year for six-year-olds upwards and their parents – I wouldn’t swap it for anything…

–Dinah Hall


From the December 11, 2004 Montreal Gazette:

The Day I Swapped My Dad for Two Goldfish, by Neil Gaiman, illustrated by Dave McKean (HarperCollins, 58 pages, $23.99), was first published seven years ago but makes its reappearance in fine form – with a new dustjacket, an afterword explaining the genesis of this story, and a CD of Gaiman reading the tale in his British- accented voice. (I could do without the advertisement that follows the reading, however – for a later anthology.) Gaiman and McKean have a strong and loyal following for their Sandman series of graphic novels; The Day I Swapped My Dad marked their first foray into children’s literature, which has since yielded at least two other collaborations: Coraline, and The Wolves in the Walls.

–Bernie Goedhart


From the December 5, 2004 Sunday Times:

Two exciting picturebook illustrators produced books this year: Dave McKean followed Wolves in the Walls (written with Neil Gaiman) with The Day I Sold My Dad for Two Goldfish (Bloomsbury Pounds 12.99), about a swapping trail starting with a preoccupied father, and Alexis Deacon, author/illustrator of Slow Loris and Beegu, teamed up with Barbara Jean Hicks for Jitterbug Jam (Hutchinson Pounds 10.99), about a little monster afraid of the boy under the bed. Both contain the sort of skill and imagination that most illustrators can only dream about.

–Nicolette Jones


From the December 1, 2004 Edmonton Journal:

Best known for their work on the canonic Sandman comic book series, writer Neil Gaiman and illustrator Dave McKean are starting to be well respected for children’s books like The Wolves in the Walls. Their first picture book — 1997’s The Day I Swapped My Dad for Two Goldfish — has just been re-released.

Though the shaky-on-purpose line drawings and the highly textured, collage-style painted pages may be a tad much for the traditionalists in the house, it’s a sophisticated objet d’art that’s as much a treat for the adults as it is for the kids.
–Gilbert A. Bouchard


From the 24th October Observer:

The Day I Swapped my Dad for Two Goldfish
by Neil Gaiman, illustrated by Dave McKean
(Bloomsbury pounds 12.99, pp64)

This dad is pictured reading the paper in front of the TV (we do not see his face). His son decides to swap dad for a couple of alluring goldfish. But when Mum comes home, she sends her son off to return the fish and reclaim dad. Unfortunately, he has been swapped again, this time for a swanky, white electric guitar. ‘”Well, he wasn’t very exciting,” said Nathan. “All he did was read the paper.”‘ I admired the lack of cosiness, the astringent dialogue, the mood of the illustrations. The book resembles a burnt orange scrapbook filled with images that, like dad, refuse to stay put. This is a book to make distracted fathers insecure – when they put their papers down. (five up)


From the October 15th Independent:

At the start of Neil Gaiman’s The Day I Swapped my Dad for Two Goldfish, illustrated by Dave McKean (Bloomsbury, pounds 12.99), a young boy, with ingenious bravado, wants his best friend’s goldfish so much that he swaps them for his dad: he is so boring, always reading the newspaper. From here, events move fast and his dad then gets traded for an electric guitar, a gorilla mask and a fat white rabbit. This fruitful foray into the childhood longing for parents to bog off ends with brother and sister, after a frantic search, finding their father in a chicken run, still reading his newspaper. This is a glory – a special brew of devilishly unique pictures and funny, spot- on perceptions.
–Sally Williams


From the October 10th Patriot News:

The Day I Swapped My Dad for Two Goldfish by Neil Gaiman, pictures by Dave McKean, Harper Collins, 64 pages, $16.99. Ages 4- 8.

Inspired by the author’s personal experience as a parent and a big brother, a boy’s father is deemed the only commodity valuable enough to trade for a friend’s two goldfish. Needless to say, mom isn’t happy when she finds out, and she sends him and his little sister out on a recovery mission.

Turns out, their dad has figured in a whole series of trades. Following the trail by trading back a guitar, a mask and a rabbit, the boy regains his father, but not his desire to trade a close relative.

Fear not, this isn’t Gaiman’s traditional scary fare like Coraline or The Wolves in the Walls. This reissue of the 1997 book includes a CD of the author reading in his British accent, verifying that the odd, arty illustrations — which will probably appeal more to older readers rather than the young who will identify with the characters — needn’t detract from the humorous story.
–Barbara Tiesch

In addition, the Patriot News has chosen American Gods as it’s Book Club pick for October.