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Library of Michigan Hopes to Hook Young Readers with Deborah Diesen's 'The Pout-Pout Fish'

Contact: Jolee Hamlin (517) 335-3077

Michigan Reads! One-state, One-children's-Book Program Kicks Off at Great Lakes Young Folk Bookfest Saturday, Aug. 8

August 3, 2009

The Library of Michigan today announced that "The Pout-Pout Fish" by Michigan author Deborah Diesen is the featured title for the 2009 Michigan Reads! program. Michigan Reads! ( is a one-state, one-children's-book program devoted to increasing early childhood literacy. Programming, events and author visits are slated to take place throughout September and October 2009. The Library of Michigan will officially launch this year's program at the Great Lakes Young Folk BookFest on Saturday, Aug. 8, in the BookFest Tent on Abbot Road and Albert Avenue, in East Lansing (

"The Michigan Reads! program has – thanks in large part to Target's support and commitment to childhood literacy – really grown and thrived these last few years," said State Librarian Nancy Robertson. "It's gratifying to see children and families tap into the joy and excitement of reading, knowing that strong reading skills can help kids achieve their future life and education goals."

"I was thrilled when I heard that 'The Pout-Pout Fish' would be the 2009 Michigan Reads! selection," said Diesen. "Writing it was great fun, and the illustrations that Dan Hanna created for the story really bring it to life. It will be a joy to travel to libraries this fall to share 'The Pout-Pout Fish' with children all around Michigan."

Diesen believes that kids "need books and reading in the same way they need food and love – they need books and reading to flourish and grow. At home, at school, at the library," she said, "when parents and caregivers read to children, great things happen – now, and years down the road."

"The Pout-Pout Fish" encourages young readers to swim along with the pout-pout fish as he discovers that he truly isn't "destined" to be glum, spreading the "dreary wearies." TIME magazine named the book a Top 10 Children's Book of 2008, proclaiming, "Younger kids will love the repetition of the verses in this tale... and... the richly colored turquoise, coral and violet ocean dwellers from the 'slender squiggly' squid to the clam with a 'pearl of advice.'"

For the third year in a row, Target continues its generous sole sponsorship of Michigan Reads!. Thanks to Target's support, the Library of Michigan will provide a hardcover copy of the book and programming materials to public libraries, elementary schools, Head Start and Michigan School Readiness programs across the state. In addition, Target's support allows the author of "The Pout-Pout Fish" to tour Michigan libraries and schools.

More information about Michigan Reads!, including dates and locations of author visits, is available at

Michigan Reads! began in 2004 as a new approach to the community-wide, "one book" programs gaining popularity throughout the country. While most of these efforts focused on adults, Michigan Reads! is unique in that it features a book that young children will enjoy, encouraging parents, grandparents, teachers, caregivers, older siblings and volunteers to get caught up in the fun and rewards of reading younger family members.

The program aims to promote the value and benefits of reading early and often to children, to encourage family bonding through reading and to increase awareness and usage of Michigan's libraries as excellent resources for learning. Since 2004, the Michigan Reads! program has evolved and now, with the help of the Michigan Department of Education, the program reaches out to include children through second grade in schools statewide.

The Library of Michigan is part of the Department of History, Arts and Libraries (HAL). Dedicated to enriching quality of life and strengthening the economy by providing access to information, preserving and promoting Michigan's heritage and fostering cultural creativity, HAL also includes the Mackinac Island State Park Commission, the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs and the Michigan Historical Center.

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