The Wishes of the Fish King


“A pleasure is full grown only when it is remembered.”

― C.S. Lewis, Out of the Silent Planet

Today Doug McKelvey and I launch a Kickstarter for the picture book The Wishes of the Fish King – a lyrical and wonder-filled story told by a father to his two-year-old daughter in hopes that it will help her to remember this magical season of her life. The illustrations are visual reflections of what she hears, and so are a blend of reality and her blossoming imagination. This project is about capturing and communicating that time in a child’s life when reality is fluid and wonder is born.

So, for example, in the opening scene we see the child at play on the floor with blocks and various toys and books. But the floor is also a fantastical landscape with mountains and trees, above which are tiny birds in flight. This is clearly her world, a world that makes sense to her, burgeoning with unlimited possibilities.


girl at play

Doug penned this story for his daughter eighteen years ago, when they were at this stage in their life together. And I’m illustrating it as my son just begins to move into this same formative time. Doug was—and I am—keenly aware of the magic of this slender sliver of life, and we want to present a picture of it because it is glorious and full of wonder and worthy of our consideration. We want to capture it and share it because people so briefly experience this magical time with their children or grandchildren, nieces or nephews, and then, like a dream, it’s gone. We’re creating something that will remind people to treasure the season while they’re in it. We hope it will also serve to stimulate and recapture some of those sweet memories for parents and children who have already lived them.

If you’ve ever viewed the opening sequence of the 1985 Geraldine Page film version of  The Trip To Bountiful, which portrays the old woman’s memory of being a young woman and running through fields of blue flowers with her little son, then you’ll have some sense of what we’re hoping to capture in The Wishes of the Fish King.

We invite you to join us as we work to bring this project to life. Click here (or the image below) to visit our Kickstarter campaign. Thanks!

fish king book cover rr


Jamin has always enjoyed illustrations and images related to stories. As a child, he drew and painted and continued to pursue art through high school and college. He attended Wichita State University where he earned a degree in art history, painting, and English literature. Since then he has focused on developing illustration and story-related imagery. His goal is to bring the viewer to a place of wonder and possibility. His picture books, Ellen and the Winter Wolves and The Wishes of the Fish King, are a beautiful witness to his many talents.


  1. Douglas McKelvey

    Ambre, watching that movie is like a holy pilgrimage for me. It hurts so much to watch it because of the ache for eternity (and also for the lost garden) it opens in the soul, but every few years, I feel like it’s necessary that I revisit the story.

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