Gone Fishing: A novel in verse

by Tamera Wissinger and Matthew Cordell

Join nine-year-old Catfish Sam as he captures a day of adventure in his net—and in verse — in this unique middle grade novel told through poems and comic illustrations.

  • Format: Hardcover
  • ISBN-13/EAN: 9780547820118
  • ISBN-10: 0547820119
  • Pages: 128
  • Publication Date: 03/05/2013
  • Carton Quantity: 24

About the book
Nine-year-old Sam loves fishing with his dad. So when his pesky little sister, Lucy, horns in on their fishing trip, he’s none too pleased: “Where’s my stringer? / Something’s wrong! / The princess doll does not belong!” All ends well in this winsome book of poems—each labeled with its proper poetic form, from quatrain to tercet. Together the poems build a dawn-to-dusk story of a father-son bond, of sibling harmony lost and found—and most of all, of delicious anticipation. Charming line drawings animate the poetry with humor and drama, and the extensive Poet’s Tackle Box at the end makes this the perfect primer to hook aspiring poets of all ages.
About the author
Tamera Wissinger

Tamera Will Wissinger writes poetry and stories for children. She earned her B.A. degree in English from Sioux Falls College, and her M.F.A. degree in Writing from Hamline University. She is the author of Gone Fishing: A Novel in Verse and This Old Band.  www.tamerawillwissinger.com

Matthew Cordell

Matthew Cordell has illustrated many picture and chapter books for children including Wolf in the Snow, which won the Caldecott Medal. He lives with his wife and their two children outside of Chicago, Illinois. Visit him online at matthewcordell.com and on Twitter @cordellmatthew.




Tercet Variation

Dark night.


Dad and I hunt worms tonight.

Grass slick.

Worms thick.

Tiptoe near and grab them quick.

Hold firm.

They squirm.

Tug-o-war with earth and worm.


Worms galore.

Set our bucket near the door.

Next day.

No delay.

Look out, fish — we’re on our way!



Free Verse Poem


For fishing tomorrow

it’s just us two.

Not Mom, not Grandpa,

not Lucy.

It’ll be like playing catch or

painting the garage.

Just Dad and me.




Switcheroo Poem


I love my fishing tackle box — it’s green and blue and gold.

My grandpa gave it to me when I wasn’t very old.

I need to get it ready for tomorrow at the lake.

We’re leaving in the morning just as soon as we’re awake.

One tiny click and now my treasure chest is open wide.

A shelf with lots of little spaces holds my gear inside.

My silver sinkers, wiggle worms, my floating frogs, my line.

My shiny spinner lures, my bobbers, hooks—there’re 29.

The shelf is on a hinge—it hides my secret space below.

It’s where I keep my special treasures out of sight—OH NO!


. . . Where’s my compass?

Where’s my map?

Where’s my lucky fishing cap?

Where’s my stringer?

Something’s wrong!

This princess doll does not belong!

. . . What is this?

A throne?

A crown?

A polka-dotted circus clown?

A tiny bottle of perfume?


I smell Lucy in my room!



Dramatic Poem for One, Quatrains

Oh, Sam—you’re here. Come on, let’s play!

I’m fishing for pretend tonight.

It’s fun to use your gear this way.

Hold on, I think I have a bite.

Your map’s a paper fishing boat.

Your compass is the steering wheel.

I think our boat could really float.

It would be fun to fish for real.

Your stringer makes a tiny lake.

I didn’t crumple up your map.

Your compass works—it didn’t break.

I sure do like your fishing cap.

I didn’t snoop—I made a trade.

Stay here, sit down, don’t go away.

Don’t you like the boat I made?

Your fishing stuff is fun—come play!


Triple Crown Awards' 2017-2018 Gallery Honor 


"Just the thing for readers with a burgeoning interest in poetry—or angling." 

Publishers Weekly 


"A playful verse narrative of the joys and perils of a family fishing trip. . . . This tender, well-crafted sibling story should hook many readers." 



"Engaging verse that's just the right depth and length for chapter-book readers. . . A solid, entertaining story to hook children on poetry." 



"All of Sam's episodes take the form of poems, each discreetly labeled by its poetic form, which is then defined at the end of the book. . . most will enjoy the notion that there are as many ways to tell a tale as to catch a fish." 



"This novel in verse successfully builds a story filled with anticipation, family humor, and sibling rivalry. . . . Wissinger deftly plies her craft to ensure that the use of poetry enhances the readability of the story" 

School Library Journal, starred review