Dr. Seuss Wiki
Published: 1961
Author: Helen Palmer Geisel
Illustrator: P.D. Eastman
Characters: The Boy, Otto, Mr. Carp
Setting: {{{setting}}}

A Fish out of Water is a 1961 American children's book written by Helen Palmer Geisel, and illustrated by P. D. Eastman. The book is based on a short story by Palmer's husband Theodor Geisel (Dr. Seuss), "Gustav the Goldfish", which was published with his own illustrations in Redbook magazine in June 1950.


The story is about a boy who buys a fish from a pet shop. The boy names the fish Otto. The owner, Mr. Carp, gives the boy instructions on how to care for the fish, including strict feeding instructions: "Never feed him a lot. Never more than a spot! Or something may happen. You never know what." Unfortunately, the boy overfeeds Otto, causing him to outgrow his fishbowl, thus promoting the boy to move him into several increasingly large containers and then ending up with a bathtub, which Otto overgrows, resulting in the house being flooded with water.

The boy decides to call a police officer, who then decides to call the fire department for help. They take Otto down to the local pool, where they drop the fish in, causing him to expand to the size of the pool and scare off all of the swimmers. Unsure of what to do, the boy calls Mr. Carp, who is not surprised as boys always ignore his feeding instructions, and he comes as quickly as possible. Mr. Carp dives into the pool and pulls Otto below. Eventually, Mr. Carp brings the fish back up to the surface returned to its normal size. He refuses to say how he did it, but tells the boy to never overfeed Otto again. So, the boy decides after the adventures he had that day that he will never overfeed his fish again.


"Gustav the Goldfish", the short story that served as the basis for this book, was collected along with six other stories by Seuss originally published in magazines, in the 2011 collection The Bippolo Seed and Other Lost Stories.[1][2]


  1. "Random Uncovers 'New' Seuss Stories". Publishers Weekly. Retrieved 4 June 2012.
  2. Flood, Alison. "Lost Dr Seuss stories to be published". The Guardian. Retrieved 4 June 2012.