The Rainbow Fish is an award-winning children's book drawn and written by Marcus Pfister, Swiss author and illustrator, 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."
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.
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 Day. 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, Rainbeau De Bergerac. 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.
|No.||Title||Original air date||Summary|
|1a||Rainbow Fish and the New Girl at School||September 19, 2000||A new girl, Sea Filly (who is half-seahorse, half-mermaid) comes to Rainbow Fish's school and Rainbow and his best friend Blue welcome her.|
|1b||Rainbow Fish Meets Wayne Grunion||September 19, 2000||Rainbow is excited to meet his hero, renowned hockey star Wayne Grunion, when he comes to town for a visit.|
|2a||Rainbow Fish Plays the Conch Shell||September 20, 2000||In the school band, Rainbow Fish is assigned the conch shell, the hardest instrument in the band to play.|
|2b||Riptide||September 20, 2000||When Rainbow Fish and his friends attempt a dangerous sport called 'Riptiding', Blue is swept away on a riptide and his friends must find him.|
|3a||Rainbow Gets an 'A'||September 21, 2000||Rainbow Fish gets a bad report card, but Rainbow's classmate Kelp help change it so his parents won't be annoyed at his appalling grades.|
|3b||Grandpa's Fishy Tale||September 21, 2000||Rainbow is not enthusiastic about spending time with his grandpa while his parents are away at the store, thinking he will be bored, but when his grandpa tells him an amazing story that hides an incredible secret, Rainbow discovers that old people can be exciting after all.|
|4a||Rainbow's Dental Dilemma||September 22, 2000||Rainbow fears visiting the dentist, but when he goes, he discovers that dentists aren't as bad as he thought they were.|
|4b||Rainbow Fish and the Pop Star||September 22, 2000||A pop star is invited to sing at Rainbow's school, and when he sings, Rainbow is in awe.|
|5a||Sherman Shrimp||September 23, 2000||A new student, Sherman Shrimp, comes to school and Rainbow treats him badly. However, after Sherman saves Rainbow from a shipwreck, Rainbow realizes that he has been bad to Sherman all along.|
|5b||Lost in Crumbling Canyon||September 23, 2000||Chomper, the school bully, gets lost in a canyon with Rainbow Fish, and the two opposites must work together to find their way out.|
|6a||The Golf Lesson||September 24, 2000||Rainbow breaks his father's golf club and his father is annoyed at Rainbow.|
|6b||Ruby's Adventures in Babysitting||September 24, 2000||Ruby takes the task of babysitting to earn money, saying it is an easy job, but when she actually starts the job, she finds out that babysitting is more difficult than meets the eye.|
|7a||Sir Sword Goes Back to School||September 25, 2000||Sir Sword needs to finish third grade, so he attends Rainbow's school.|
|7b||Rainbeau De Begerac||September 25, 2000||Blue has a crush on Goldie, but he's too shy to ask her on a date, so Rainbow decides to use a horn to amplify Blue's voice. However, Chomper and Stingo soon ruin the plan.|
|8a||Big Fish on Campus||September 26, 2000||When Blue becomes a hall monitor, he lets the power go to his head.|
|8b||Sibling Rivalry||September 26, 2000||Blue gets a new baby sister and he feels left out because of the attention his mom and friends are giving to the baby.|
|9a||One Fish's Treasure||September 27, 2000||Rainbow finds a sea-monkey bowl that he likes, and so he lines it with his sister Ruby's magazine and treasures it.|
|9b||Project Rainbow Fish||September 27, 2000||Rainbow learns a lesson about charity and works on a project involving it.|
|10a||Ruby Slips In||September 28, 2000||Ruby is always intruding on conversations between Rainbow Fish and his friends, and Rainbow is not happy about it.|
|10b||Working Fish||September 28, 2000||Rainbow gets a job at the Candy Counter to earn money.|
|11a||Cecil B. Derainbow||September 29, 2000||Rainbow takes up making movies and casts himself as the director.|
|11b||Rainbow's Pen Pal||September 29, 2000||Rainbow's pen pal is coming to visit him and Rainbow is excited.|
|12a||Campus Current||September 30, 2000||Sea Filly becomes the editor of the school newspaper.|
|12b||Fish Alone||September 30, 2000||Burglars break into Rainbow's house one afternoon and ruin it.|
|13a||Rainbow Fish and the In Crowd||October 1, 2000||Rainbow and Blue decide to show Chomper and Stingo they're not babies by hanging out with a new clique.|
|13b||Knights of the Coral Table||October 1, 2000||Sir Sword lends Rainbow a book that he becomes hooked on and can't stop reading.|
|14a||Bad Luck Ruby||October 2, 2000||When Ruby encounters a series of unfortunate events one day, she believes she has been cursed.|
|14b||Father's Day||October 2, 2000||Rainbow tries to give his dad a good gift on Father's Day, but everything turns out wrong.|
|15a||Prehistoric Pal||October 3, 2000||Rainbow finds a hole in the ground that an extinct coelacanth called Carl swims out of. However, Carl spends most of his time in the modern world trying to impress Ruby.|
|15b||May the Better Fish Win!||October 3, 2000||Rainbow, Blue, and Sea Filly all compete for the role of class president.|
|16a||Blue's Fishy Catch||October 4, 2000||Blue tries hard to win the Clamball championship, but he just can't.|
|16b||To Catch a Thief||October 4, 2000||Rainbow is suspicious of his sister when she starts acting oddly. However, it turns out she is just making a surprise gift for their parents.|
|17a||Guess Who's Coming to Dinner||October 5, 2000||Rainbow's mom invites his teacher, Mrs. Chips, to dinner, and Rainbow is worried that she will act like a teacher.|
|17b||It's a Wonderful Fish||October 5, 2000||A guardian angel fish shows Rainbow the value of his life.|
|18a||Moving Day||October 6, 2000||Rainbow fears his parents are planning to sell the house to two fish called Ret and Snapper, and so his friends attempt to make his house as much of a wreck as possible to avoid it being sold. However, Rainbow then discovers his parents are planning to build a new recreation room and repairs the house.|
|18b||Romantic Dinner||October 6, 2000||Rainbow and Ruby prepare an anniversary dinner for their parents.|
|19a||The Bodyguard||October 7, 2000||Rainbow saves a whale's life, and, in return, the whale becomes his bodyguard.|
|19b||Mom's Away||October 7, 2000||Rainbow is not pleased when his mother gets a job in his school.|
|20a||How Sea Filly got her Groove Back||October 8, 2000||After being teased by her classmates, Sea Filly decides to take up cheerleading to prove herself worthy, causing Blue and Rainbow to worry about her becoming a different person.|
|20b||High Tide Noon||October 8, 2000||Rainbow stands up to Chomper and Stingo, earning the school's affection.|
|21a||Game Girl||October 9, 2000||After watching Rainbow and Blue play it, Sea Filly becomes addicted to a video game called Clam Blaster and hardly does anything else.|
|21b||There's No Business Like...||October 9, 2000||The friends reminisce about businesses they enjoy and get into a fight.|
|22a||Sea Filly Needs a Helping Fin||October 10, 2000||Sea Filly gets a bad grade on a math test and worries greatly.|
|22b||Prince Blue||October 10, 2000||When Blue looks at his book and mistakenly thinks his ancestors were royalty, he starts behaving like a prince.|
|23a||Pool Shark||October 11, 2000||When Chomper's relative, a pool-playing master, comes to Wanda's refreshment shop, he beats everyone in pool by secretly cheating. It's up to Rainbow to beat him and make him and his pool table leave.|
|23b||Halloween Under H2O||October 11, 2000||Rainbow has a dream for a perfect Halloween.|
|24a||Eviction Notice||October 12, 2000||A real-estate fish is scared by a ghost in a house in Rainbow's neighborhood and he tells the whole neighbor to evict.|
|24b||The Vacation||October 12, 2000||Rainbow, Blue, Sea Filly, and Sherman Shrimp go on a camping trip.|
|25a||Cave Mates||October 13, 2000||Blue and Rainbow's friendship is tested when Blue comes to stay at Rainbow's house.|
|25b||Chomper, Master Thespian||October 13, 2000||Chomper is given the lead role in the school play.|
|26a||Rainbow's Hiccups||October 14, 2000||Rainbow's love of kelp gusher drinks causes him to get hiccups.|
|26b||Santa Sword is Coming to Town||October 14, 2000||Rainbow Fish helps Sir Sword dressed as Santa Sword on Christmas Eve.|
- A supplemental Rainbow Fish craft for young children
- Rainbow Fish at VoiceChasers
- Rainbow Fish at the Internet Movie Database