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The Fabulous Tale of Fish and Chips (Paperback)

Children's Books

By Helaine Becker, Illustrations by Omer Hoffmann
Imprint: Green Bean Books
Pages: 32
Illustrations: Colour throughout
ISBN: 9781784385705
Published: 5th August 2021



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Joseph Malin loves his grandmother’s fried fish, which she makes according to an old family recipe. It’s so good, he thinks he might be able to make some money from it; money that his immigrant Jewish family desperately needs. He takes it into the marketplace of 19th Century London’s East End and calls out to passers-by: ‘Fresh from the ships, Hot n’ tasty fried fish'. Before long, people are coming from far and wide to try the delicious snack.

But his success inspires a rival. Annette, the greengrocer across the street, sees an opportunity to hawk her own family favourite: Belgian-style fried potatoes. “Piping hot chips!”/So crisp, so delish”, she calls. And they’re a hit too.

The competition between Joseph and Annette heats up as they try to outsell each other at the market. And then one day… crash! The two collide. Chips slip. Fish fly. It’s a disaster. Or perhaps not…

This is the playful account of how the real-life Joseph Malin, a poor Jewish immigrant, invented fish and chips, the iconic British fish and chips dish.

As featured in

Writing Magazine

A lovely insight into the traditional fish and chips and how they originated. Explains the story behind them in an easily understood way. Really enjoyed reading it.

NetGalley, Helen Finch

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

This was a cute little origin story of fish and chips and I think kids and adults of all ages will really enjoy reading this.

NetGalley, Kaitlyn Waller

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

WARNING: The Fabulous Tale of Fish and Chips will leave you salivating while reading! The Fabulous Tale of Fish and Chips tells the story of how the most famous dish came to be, fish and chips. (There is also a recipe on how to make the traditional fish in the book!). I absolutely loved this book and it’s illustrations. This book would be perfect for any type of story time. Thank you to NetGalley and the Publisher for the opportunity to read this book! I really enjoyed it!

NetGalley, Leslie Hartman

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

I loved this book! It's the true story of how fish and chips came to be through a young jewish boy selling his grandmother's recipe in new and inventive ways. The illustrations are beautiful and it's a fun history lesson for any age. Highly recommended.

NetGalley, Morris Morgan

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Eating fish was one thing. That was easy. But selling it was hard. Joseph came up with the idea to sell the fish fresh after it’s cooked. When word spread, people were coming from far to try it. His neighbor, Annette was not please with Joseph’s success since she could not sell her potatoes no longer. She came up with the idea to sell fried potatoes just like Joseph was selling fried fish. When the two of them collided, fish and chips were mixed, and this is how this loved dish of the British cooking appeared.
The story is very cute, and the author informs us at the end of the story that indeed a Joseph Malin was the one to first open the first fish and chips shop in London’s East End in 1860. We do not know if the French woman Annette really existed, but French and Belgian women are credited with being the first to fry potatoes in hot oil.

NetGalley, Violeta Voicila

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

A beautiful look at the birth of the iconic British meal. As someone who lives at one of the “fish and chip capital’s of the country? World?” I knew I would love this book as much as my children did. The illustrations are lovely and the story is told perfectly.

NetGalley, Paula Smith

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

What a wonderful story with adorable illustrations!

I would like to thank Pen & Sword for providing me with an advance readers copy via access to the galley for free through the NetGalley program.

I’d recommend this to children of wide age ranges as the illustrations are enticing and verbiage is inviting. It also has appeal for multi-cultural and historical interest as well.

It features an appropriate, digestible length of book with simple enough and easy to understand sentence structure and words for readers from about 7 years of age on up to read independently, likely the ability to begin reading starting at 6 with some assistance. Listeners of any age who would be drawn to the pictures is also complete with a story that would be interesting to anyone of any age.

This was a good family read and we enjoyed the recipe contained in the book, making it for Fish Friday, which was super delicious and fun to make. This book also brought me back to my childhood, loving the treat of fish and chips meal. The illustrations reminded me of my favorite childhood reads including the amusing illustrations of historical scenes in Where's Waldo and Journey Cake, Ho!

The Story
I was completely unaware of the origin of fish and chips so this was a great way to learn a bit about food history.

This picture story was really brought to life with perfectly detailed illustrations which were precious and realistic. Had enough adventurous tone to be an attractive in a sketch-like, colorful style to emphasize the time period, setting, and character expression.

The Writing
With lively narration, the kids had a fun time taking turns reading it, drawing out the expressions in the dialogue which were well placed among the main historical aspect of the storyline.

“Made me hungry for fish and chips.”
“A good book.”

I’d love to know more books like this.

NetGalley, Erica Robbin

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

An engaging tale on the origins of fish and chips with beautiful illustrations.
Love the recipe at the end too.

NetGalley, Kath Vickers

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

I love this book! This is the story of a Jewish family who sold fish and found how to sell it better through fried fish. And an inspired neighbor who the sell fried potatoes, then the alliance between these two vendors who then made Fish n Chip so famous in the UK.

NetGalley, Jo Clairefontaine

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

A wonderful short story with endearing & gorgeous illustration, great for all ages. Definitely recommend trying the recipe as well, absolutely wonderful and a great addition to the book.

NetGalley, Grace A

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

According to the author’s note at the end, Joseph Malin opened the first fish and chips shop in London in 1860. That much is known to be true, but this fun picture book speculates about the sequence of events that inspired this food combination. After all, the fried fish was a traditional Jewish Sabbath dish while chips (aka French fries) were evidently first made by the French and Belgians. In Becker’s hypothesized version of the story, Joseph Malin’s family began selling fried fish first, which was such a popular product that their neighbor Annette, who ran a vegetable stall, lost business. In order to make her produce more marketable, she began selling her fried potatoes. The famous English meal of fish and chips was invented when Joseph and Annette bumped into each other, blending their merchandise into a single, “crispy, tasty dish!” The details are of course fabricated, but the historical and cultural details make this book educational nonetheless. The two-dimensional yet detailed artwork is reminiscent of Richard Scarry, but with human characters and a historical London setting. Recommended for first and second graders, but with appeal factors for older readers, too.

NetGalley, Magdalena Biar

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

If you love origin stories, this is for you. It is based on the true story of Joseph Malin, who invented the dish, fish and chips. He loved his grandmother’s recipe for fried fish and decided to sell it. He worked with his neighbor Annette, who made fried potatoes AKA French fries. They found a way to work together to sell their food.
The story is engaging for elementary school children. The illustrations are delightful! The message of trying new things and working with someone is woven throughout the entire story. The author also has a note at the end about the history of this story and the fish and chips recipe. I can't wait to add this to my classroom library!

NetGalley, Diane Y

This is a really cool book! Firstly because - who doesn't love fish and chips! The more we know about our favourite things the better, particularly when they are steeped in culture and tradition. I love the trend of including recipes in picture books... the perfect way to get children interested in food (especially the more selective eaters) is to engage and involve them in the cooking process. So the picture book keeps on giving even after the story has finished! Back to the story - I'm a sucker for detail. This illustrations are bulging with detail. The prose is informative without being overwhelming and the way it has been formed is genuinely engaging. While I was reading the story I was actually reminded of a story board... it's very easy to imagine this as an animated short (which by the way I would love to see!). The Fabulous Tale of Fish and Chips is that perfect blend of artistic licence and age appropriate true history. Almost like a picture book version of Horrible Histories, but not horrible... delicious.

NetGalley, Sophia Vassie

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Awe I love a good retelling of history. In this loosely based on history tale of how fish and chips came to be! The background illustration are detailed and you could spend all day looking through all the pages!

NetGalley, Ruby Smart

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

I'll be honest and admit I was expecting a perfectly good book. What I got was a fun and entertaining, great book! As soon as I finished reading my nephew asked me to read it again! Definitely a fun look at the history of fish and chips.

For teachers and parents using this book:
Inventors - This book would be great to use when learning about inventors - oftentimes necessity is the mother of invention.
Culinary History - If students are learning about their own history this book would be great to launch a discussion or project on special recipes from your family's history.
How To - There is a page in the book with the steps for making fish which would be great for a lesson on how to write a how to assignment.

NetGalley, Julie DenOuden

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

This is such a delightful, adorable, wholesome read. So cute! Joseph Malin, a real-life person, is the protagonist with a fictional character. While the former invents the fried fish with the help of his grandma (derived from an old family recipe, also a secret), the latter copies his style of cooking fish but with her potatoes. The rivalry unexpectedly brings a pairing where both fish and chips are celebrated and one cannot exist without the other, at least not deliciously.

I'd heartily recommend this cute book.

NetGalley, Maria Hossain

The fabulous tale of fish and chips is a cute illustrated book about a man called Joseph Malin who really did invent the traditional fish that us bits eat today!
Young Joseph is poor and works very hard at his family business selling fish. One day he has a great idea, to try and sell the fish cooked as to his grandma's special recipe.
The fish is a hit and he goes on to sell it and make more money for his family.
This was a really cute book and I loved how the author combined it with the chips (which is the part that we don't know if it is really what happened).

NetGalley, Natalie Horman

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Absolutely delightful book!
I love that it is based on history and includes a recipe! I am so excited to share this with my family. The illustrations are adorable and stimulating. I think fish and chips are delicious and I can already see myself reading it to my kids and subsequently making fish and chips for dinner.

NetGalley, Grace Kovac

The Fabulous Tale of Fish and Chips blends fact and fiction to tell the story of the first chippy in London, Joseph Malin. The illustrations have such cute little details, like a seagull sneaking off with a chip. While some of the text is a bit long, there is also some lovely language that young readers will enjoy. "Scrumptious and galumptious" will make the kiddos giggle. I also love the fish and chip endpapers! What a gorgeous little detail.
There is also a recipe for fried fish in the Jewish fashion. This could be a great way to extend learning with kids after reading.

NetGalley, Megan Hellwig

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

I adored this story – it was such a wonderful read!

The book was easy to read and follow and it was a lovely story and one I will read with my daughter when she is a little older as it is a book for all ages, I loved it as a mum and she enjoyed the story as it is about fish and chips which she loves!

It was well written and I liked the ending too, one that left me with a little smile on my face and it was a pleasure to read.

It is 5 stars from me for his one – very highly recommended!

NetGalley, Donna Maguire

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

A lovely tale full of whimsy and fun. Based partly on historical events - Joseph Malin was the first to open a “chippy” selling fish and chips - the story clearly shows the importance of grit, determination, and cooperation.

NetGalley, Becky Barrett

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

How did I not know about the history of fish and chips?? My knowledge of food history is so lacking in some places. BUT THIS IS SO INTERESTING. Despite the fact that I'm a vegetarian and don't eat fish (but I love chips so much, nom), this book made me SO HUNGRY. And it also made me crave matzo ball soup, haha. The descriptions of the recipes are lush and by the end of the book I promise you'll be hungry too. What a great read of a historical chef! And the drawings are super cute :D

NetGalley, Rebecca Crunden

The story is still fun, and bright and colorful, plus you get a recipe for fried fish at the end of the story.

NetGalley, Laura Testa-Reyes

This is a lovely little tale of the origins of fish & chips. I really liked the illustrations and the friendships formed throughout the story. I liked how the families were really featured too.

NetGalley, Suzy Card

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

I thought this was a fun story of the origin of fish'n'chips" I think kids who are familiar with the foods, or who have been to England, will enjoy reading the story. Well, it may get them interested in learning about another culture just from reading this book! Loved the illustrations! Fun, quick read!

NetGalley, Catherine Hankins

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

This is a lovely quirky children’s book telling the story of how fried fish and chips came to be. A fun little tale and one I have never seen before in a children’s book. Cute illustrations to boot. My 6yr old loved the story and gave it 5stars saying it was “awesome”. Now we all want fish and chips for tea lol.

NetGalley, Hayley Graham

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

This is a great children's story about Joseph Malin and the opening of the very first fish and chips shop in London's East End in 1860. The illustrations are fabulous and fun and will hold children's attention. Loved the flavourful wording in the book.

NetGalley, Colleen Mitchell

An imaginative history about the origin of the famous British Fish &Chips. It was so cute and funny with a good recipe to try at home in order to make your own F&C. The illustrations were nice to look at and made the story more fun to read. It was simple and easy to discover so, more interesting for kids.

NetGalley, Misa Wadoud

Fun little story for children about how Fish and Chips came about!
Told in a fun way that is easy to understand for younger children.
Great illustrations too.
It does say at the end of the book that the part about the story of fish and chips coming together isn't strictly true but who cares - I like that idea 😂

NetGalley, Kirstie Jones

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

I certainly didn’t expect this book to be as good as it is. What a fabulously written story!

Joseph Malin loves his grandmother’s fried fish and hits open the idea of selling them to make more money for his struggling immigrant Jewish family. His neighbour Annette, a greengrocer, finds that Joseph’s fried fish is affecting the business at her shop. She hits on the idea of using her own family recipe of fried potatoes and selling them. One fine day, when the twain meet, we discover how fish and chips came into being.

The story is wonderfully penned. Right from the first page to the last, it holds your attention. The language is quite simple and hence easy to understand for little readers. The illustrations add further magic to the book. They are fabulous and support the narrative flow perfectly.

I simply adored this fictional take on the origin of fish and chips and would heartily recommend it to independent readers aged 6+.

NetGalley, Roshni D'Souza

About Helaine Becker

Helaine Becker is the bestselling author of more than 90 books for children and young adults, including the No. 1 Canadian national bestseller A Porcupine in a Pine Tree (Scholastic Canada) and the international bestseller Counting on Katherine: How Katherine Johnson Saved Apollo 13 (Henry Holt). Her books have won multiple awards and been translated into ten languages. A New York native, Helaine has lived in Toronto, Canada for more than 20 years. She has also written Gottika for Green Bean Books.

About Omer Hoffmann

Omer Hoffmann is an award-winning Israeli illustrator. His diverse body of work includes illustrations for newspapers, children's books and comics worldwide. Omer's illustrations were selected for the Hans Christian Andersen Illustration Honour List 2016 for the book Hardil Lo Ragill. His work on The Boy who Mailed His Family received the Ben Yizhak Merit Award for Picture Book illustrations in 2020. He lives in Givatayim with his wife and their two children. He also illustrated The Sages of Chelm and the Moon, published by Green Bean Books.

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