The Rainbow Fish is an award-winning children's book drawn and written by Marcus Pfister, and translated into English by J. Alison James. The book is best known for its morals about the value of being an individual and for the distinctive shiny foil scales of Rainbow Fish. DHX Media turned the story into a 26-episode animated television series of the same name, which has aired on the HBO Family television channel in the United States since 1999.
The story tells of a fish with shiny, multi-colored scales named Rainbow Fish. He is always fond of his scales. But one day, a small fish asks him if he could have one. Rainbow Fish refuses in a very rude way. The other fish are really upset about his behavior and don't want to play with him anymore.
Feeling upset, his only friend left, the starfish, tells him to go visit the mysterious octopus for advice. Rainbow Fish finds the octopus and asks what he should do. The octopus tells him that he should share the beauty of his scales with his friends.
When he encounters the small fish a second time, the Rainbow Fish gives him one of his precious scales and, seeing the joy of this little fish, feels immediately much better. Very soon Rainbow Fish is surrounded by other fish requesting scales and he gives to each of them one of his shiny scales.
The author about his book: "Rainbow Fish has no political message. The story shows us the joy of sharing. We all enjoy making presents for Christmas or birthdays and we are feeling good doing so. I want to show to our children the positive aspect of sharing: To share does not only mean to give away something (which is quite hard for a child), but above all to make happy someone else - and itself."
The moral 
Reviewers have called this a "cautionary tale about selfishness and vanity" and a reminder that "sharing brings happiness and acceptance," but the moral of the book has become a hotly debated topic. Interpretations include rejection of individuality and promotion of Socialism.
The book series 
There are five other Rainbow Fish stories.
Rainbow Fish to the Rescue: About the acceptance and integration of foreigners.
Rainbow Fish and the Big Blue Whale: About arguments and how to settle them.
Rainbow Fish and the Sea Monster's Cave: About irrational and rational fears.
Rainbow Fish Finds his Way: With the help of his new friends, Rainbow Fish finds his way back home.
Rainbow Fish Discovers the Deep Sea: About modesty and happiness.
Television series 
Rainbow Fish was adapted into a children's animated television series. The television series does not, however, follow the plot of the book; rather it takes the character and the setting and creates a new story with them. There have been some characters added and others embellished upon for the purposes of the show. In the series, the place where the fish live is called Neptune Bay (It is named after Neptune (mythology), god of sea). The fish all attend school, which is aptly named "The School of Fish". There is a shipwreck called "Shipwreck Park" in the series that resembles the RMS Titanic.
Rainbow Fish: The proud, vibrant fish that lives with his mother and father. His favorite movie is Claminator 12. He loves it so much that it can lead to problems. He likes to play Clam ball, a fictional game which is in a place mostly.
Principal Gefilte: The proud Principal of The School of Fish, he is strict about behavior. Sometimes, he can get vain. Rainbow Fish gets annoyed when he insists that they all have to write book reports.
Sea Filly: In one of the episodes, she is a new girl in school. She is a beautiful seahorse, though she is half mermaid, half seahorse. She eventually becomes friends with Rainbow and Blue. She is often seen reading books
Blue: Rainbow Fish's best friend, who is more down-to-earth and thoughtful than Rainbow Fish. He also enjoys playing Clam ball, and also loves Claminator 12. He is a blue fish and has a baby sister called Turquoise. She is a turquoise fish.
Ruby: She is Rainbow Fish's older sister who is a teenager. She is arrogant, bossy, self-centered and ruby-colored. Constantly, she gets Rainbow Fish into trouble, because she gets jealous, although she actually loves him. She has her own personal nickname for Rainbow Fish; she calls him "Barnacle Boy". This is an allusion to SpongeBob SquarePants.
Mrs. Chips: The teacher of the school. She teaches history, mathematics, science, and literature.
Wanda the Octopus: She is the owner of the Neptune Bay fast food restaurant. She very wise and when Rainbow Fish is down she will always gives him advice.
Chomper and Stingo: The two bullies of the school. They do not really commit acts of physical violence but they can bully and tease Rainbow Fish and his friends. Chomper is a shark while Stingo is a stingray. Chomper bullies more often than Stingo. They often call Rainbow Fish "Rainbow Creep", but sometimes call him other names, like on one episode, "Rainbow Girl".
Sherman: The smallest of the school. He is a salt-water shrimp. To him everything looks big. In the episode where he arrives to Neptune Bay, Rainbow Fish treats Sherman as a shrimp. In the end when Rainbow Fish gets stuck deep in the bowels of a shipwreck, Sherman hears from the TV and goes and rescues Rainbow Fish. Rainbow apologizes for his behavior.
Sol and Aqua: Aqua is an aqua-colored fish and is Rainbow Fish's mother. Sol is purple and is Rainbow's dad. They help their daughter and son whatever way they can and will always provide them with great courage.
Sir Sword: Local swordfish, upper-class and a bit of a busybody. He is sometimes grumpy, sometimes civil, but always seems to think he is better than everyone else. Plays Santa Sword to the kids at the local Guppies hospital.
Ret and Snapper: The two builders. They appear in only one episode, Moving Away. Rainbow Fish thinks they are going to be moving and Ret and Snapper will buy the house. He and his friends plan to make the house as much of a wreck as possible in order to put off any potential buyers. His parents reveal they were going to build a new recreation room.
Goldie: She appears in only one episode, Shy Blue. She has a crush on Blue, and Rainbow Fish attempts to bring them together. However, Chomper and Stingo soon ruin the plan.
Rainbow Fish's other classmates: They do not speak in any episode, but, however, they are different shapes, sizes and color. The first one is: a brown fish, the second one: has long body and colored violet, the third one: colored gold and has a redish-like lips, the last one: has a sleek body and has the same color as the second one. Their names are not revealed in any episode since.
- Book Report
- Director de. Rainbow
- Fish Alone
- The New Girl
- Romantic Dinner
- Moving Away
- Shy Blue
- "Rainbow gets an A"
- Halloween under H2O
- Prehostoric Pal
- The Angel Fish
- Rainbow's Pen Pal
- Easter under the sea
- Ruby Slips In
- Cave Mates
- Sherman Shrimp
- A supplemental Rainbow Fish craft for young children
- Rainbow Fish at VoiceChasers
- Rainbow Fish at the Internet Movie Database