Goldeye and Funnyfin

Goldeye and Funnyfin

a children's chapter book
written by Fannie Kahan
illustrated by Sharon Kahan
edited by Heather Nickel
softcover ~ 64 pages ~ 8" x 8" ~ $25.00
illustrations (watercolour and ink): full colour
ISBN 978-0-9881229-4-9
released fall 2013


Goldeye and Funnyfin swim through the ocean in search of the Magnificent Fish. Along the way they meet quirky characters like Octavia the Octopus and sharpen their problem-solving skills on a string of surprises, such as the swordfish who can only say "mphmmm." This chuckle-full chapter book is about friendship, community and courage. For children ages 4-8 and the young at heart.

Comments Why read this book | Excerpt | Conversation points | Meet the author  
Meet the illustrator | Funding | Goldeye and Funnyfin: A Publishing Story | Photo gallery | Buying notes


  • Warren James (Regina Public Library)
    These tales of fishy friendship, with a school of undersea characters, will be sure to hook young readers.
  • Brenda Niskala (SaskBooks)
    Goldeye and Funnyfin are delightful…reminiscent of the Frog and Toad series, which I loved. 
  • happy grandparent (in card to illustrator Sharon Kahan)
    Your book, Goldeye and Funnyfin, has delighted four children in my family so far. Their parents haave noted that the stories are very well written. I think the stories are fun, adventurous, educational, and a pleasure to read aloud. Your colourful illustrations clearly convey the characters' actions and feelings. I am happy to have more copies to share the joy of this book. I hope that the children who receive these books will be like Goldeye and Funnyfin, always there for their friends. Fannie taught many valuable lessons through her stories. Your mother's legacy continues.
  • Mary McNutt (Regina Early Learning Centre)
    Fifty years ago, far from the sea, Fannie entertained her children with the adventures of two fish, Goldeye and Funnyfin. Now, with a big splash and beautiful and whimsical illustrations by Fannie's daughter, the pair have come back to life to delight a new generation of children.  
  • Donna-Claire McLeod (musician)
    This story is charming and innocent and lovely…it was delightful to start my day reading such a sweet tale.
  • Roseanne Copithorn (Regina Early Learning Centre)
    ...the adventures of the friends offer an opportunity for parents and children to explore emotions and see conflict resolution at its best. Long before emotional intelligence and conflict resolution became buzz words, Fannie understood that a good story was the best way to teach her children about how to accept themselves and get along with others. What a gift.
  • Jaime Traynor (KidsFirst Regina)What a treasure! Delightful stories, gorgeous illustrations, great for reading with kids of any age. I loved the style of the pictures, and really liked the formatting for the book...The standing octopus on page 24 was my favourite :) although the fish in sunglasses on page 44 were a pretty close second!
  • Anne Luke (early learning consultant)
    It's such a lovely story with all kinds of intriguing plot twists as the two characters pursue their adventures. I like their problem solving and peace-making! I think the water colour illustrations are absolutely beautiful and so appropriate for an undersea story! I particularly liked the oysters on every page. 
  • Laurene Bitz
    Goldeye and Funnyfin set out to explore their underwater world in search of a home and in their quest discover a family of friends. Sharon Kahan's exquisitely rendered and gorgeous illustrations enhance the adventures of these two little fish and blithely lifts the tale of seeking and then finding beyond one's dreams. 
  • Jean Freeman (author)
    ...a delightful early-reader picture book... 
  • Meredith Cleversey (CM, Volume XX, Number 15, December 13, 2013)  Read the full review... (which gave Goldeye and Funnyfin a "recommended" rating)
    Goldeye and Funnyfin
     takes readers alongside the adventures of two small fish living in the big sea. The love and dedication the Kahan family showed in making this collection of cherished childhood tales available for a wider audience is endearing, and some readers will enjoy the funny characters and happy mishaps of these golden-eyed and funny-finned friends.
  • Alison Hayford (an SPG Book Review, April 3, 2014) - Read the full review...
    There’s something about this simple story and its delicate watercolour illustrations that catches and holds the attention of young children.... In the end, as in all good folk tales, Goldeye and Funnyfin find more than they were looking for: not just a house, but friendship, community, and home. Sharon Kahan’s images of these animals and their world are imaginative and engaging, with soft colours and swirling shapes that encourage children’s imaginations... 
  • Cynthia Smyth (Resource Links, Volume 19, Number 4, April 2014)
    Many real-life topics can be explored 
    throughout this book such as, friendship, emotions, community, and problem solving...The whimsical watercolour illustrations clearly depict life under the sea...There is a quite a bit of text for reading to a young audience and for the beginning reader this may present a challenge in understanding the sequence of events or accurately predicting what will happen next. The story line is however entertaining, with a variety of twists, which keeps the reader amused and intrigued.  
  • a proud grandmother (in an email)
    Her favorite book now. Sits still for 20 min while I read it. Points to fish. 
  • Jerry Summers (musician)
    It is a perfect book for curious children of all ages! 

Why read this book

The main reason to read Goldeye and Funnyfin is for the pure pleasure of it! Children and adults alike will find the stories engaging, the characters compelling, and the writing vivid and clear. The author definitely succeeded in her goal to entertain. 
     At the same time, beyond the humour and the fun, the book, like good writing of any kind, has many depths that parents and teachers can explore with children. Because the author has created a believable underwater world, readers and listeners encounter many real-life topics, including concepts of direction and size (up and down! big and small!), the spectrum of emotions (fear, wonder, frustration…), the complexity of relationships (what does friendship mean? why are some people bossy and others not?) - and more!



     "What are you doing?" Goldeye asked a purple fish.
     "Guarding our master, the Magnificent Fish, the Most Magnificent of All," said the purple fish.
     "Why, we thought you were all magnificent fish," said Funnyfin.
     "Really? You think so?" asked the purple fish. "The Magnificent Fish said there was only one magnificent fish in the whole world - him!"
     "Well," said Funnyfin, "I'm pretty magnificent, and so is Goldeye and so are you and all those other fish out there too. What makes him think he's so magnificent?"
     The purple fish thought. "He's bigger than me."
     "Aw, so what," said Funnyfin. "I'm smaller than you."
     "So you are," said the purple fish admiringly. "But he has a loud voice." 
     "So what," said Funnyfin. "I have hardly any voice at all."
     "My, my, you're right," said the purple fish, smiling more and more. "And I have an in-between voice. What do you think of that?" Then she thought some more. "But he has power."
     "Power? What kind of power?"
     "He's very bright."
     Funnyfin puffed himself up. He said, "I'm very bright. I'm one of the smartest fish I know."
     The purple fish frowned. "No, I mean he's bright - shiny bright. I'll show you."

Conversation points

Below is a list of questions that parents or teachers or others could use with kids - just for fun, to extend quality time together, or as a learning experience.

  • Who do you think was braver - Goldeye or Funnyfin? Why?
  • Would you want a house made out of sea shells, or out of something else? What are the reasons for your choice?
  • Which character do you think is most like you? Why?
  • Would you say that the Magnificent Fish is a bully? Why or why not?
  • Why do you think Octavia is so grouchy? 
  • If you were Octavia, would you have let Goldeye and Funnyfin pass by? Why or why not?
  • Why do you think Goldeye and Funnyfin became such good friends with Willa?
  • Willa the Whale is very big. Funnyfin is very small. What are some good things about being big? What are some good things about being small?
  • Which parts did you think were funny? Which parts, if any, made you feel sad or serious? Happy? Scared? Puzzled or curious? Why?
  • If you and Goldeye and Funnyfin were having a visit, what do you think you would talk about? Would you talk about different things with Willa? Octavia? Sammy? What kinds of different things? 
  • What (if anything) in the book surprised you? Why?
  • If you were travelling under the ocean, which parts would you most want to see, and which creatures would you most want to meet?
  • If you were an underwater creature, which kind would you most want to be: a fish? a whale? an octopus? a seahorse? a clam? Why?
  • Why do people like to swim in lakes and oceans? What are the reasons that people don't live underwater?
  • Originally these stories were not written down; a mother made them up and told them to her children. Do you prefer listening to storytellers or listening to books being read? Why? 

Meet the author - Fannie Kahan

Fannie Kahan was a writer with numerous publications to her credit - books, magazine articles, and newspaper articles. She played the flute and loved to travel. We don't know how a little girl born on the prairies came to love stories of the deep sea, but she delighted her children by telling them Goldeye and Funnyfin stories at bedtime. At their request, she wrote some of them down. 
     Fannie, the youngest of Israel and Clara Hoffer's six children, was born in 1922 and grew up on a farm near Oungre, Saskatchewan (Canada). A gifted writer from a young age, she worked for the Winnipeg Free Press as a reporter and assistant night editor; received a Bachelor of Arts degree, cum laude, from the School of Journalism, University of Minnesota; and worked for The Melfort Journal. In 1950, she married Irwin Kahan and lived with him in Montreal and North Battleford before settling in Regina, where they raised their three children: Barbara, Meldon and Sharon.  
     From the beginning of her writing career up until her death, Fannie fought passionately for better understanding and treatment of schizophrenia. As a strong advocate for the rights of the mentally ill she wrote publications for the Canadian Mental health Association (Saskatchewan Branch) and later the Canadian Schizophrenia Foundation. In 1972 Fannie became managing editor of the Journal of Orthomolecular Psychiatry. During her last illness, with the dedication and selflessness that was so characteristic of her, she worked on the Journal up until a few days before her death in 1978. She was later inducted into the International Schizophrenia Foundation's Orthomolecular Hall of Fame.
     Fannie's publication credits include: Land of Hope, the story of her father Israel Hoffer, written with her mother Clara Hoffer; Brains and Bricks: The History of the Yorkton Psychiatric CentreA Different Drummer: The History of the Saskatchewan Psychiatric Nurses' Association; and How to Live with Schizophrenia and New Hope for Alcoholics, co-written with her brother Abram Hoffer and his colleague Humphry Osmond. (Note that Fannie's name was not included on the covers of these last two books; however, the Authors' Preface to New Hope for Alcoholics makes clear that for both books Fannie was an equal author to the other two.) 
     In addition to her intense commitment to helping others, Fannie had a wonderful imagination and sensitivity along with great wit and humour. These qualities are highlighted in her engaging stories about Goldeye and Funnyfin. 

The photo is of Fannie, about age five, on the farm where she grew up.  

Meet the illustrator - Sharon Kahan

Sharon Kahan performs regularly with orchestras and ensembles throughout her home province of Ontario. She has been heard in recital and in chamber performances throughout Canada and in Western Europe, and has appeared as a concerto soloist with many orchestras, including the International Symphony of Michigan, USA. She was a faculty member at 
Western University's Faculty of Music for twenty years and principal flute for the Ontario Festival Symphony Orchestra, which toured China in 2012. Sharon is principal flute at the Stratford Festival, where she has played for musical productions such as Camelot and Fiddler on the Roof since 1994. In addition to her career as a concert flutist, she is an accomplished Irish folk flutist. 
     Sharon's art work has appeared in a number of exhibitions. She enjoys spending time with her husband Jerry (Jerome Summers) on their boat and gardening at home in London, Ontario, with her Cairn Terrier Wendy by her side.  
     As a child Sharon loved listening to her mother tell Goldeye and Funnyfin stories at bedtime. Now that she is all grown up, she loves them still!!!
     To find out more about Sharon, read the questions and answers below...

Could you talk a bit about your relationship with Goldeye and Funnyfin as a child? 
I clearly remember asking Mom to tell me stories about different characters, depending on my mood.  I asked to hear about Octavia and Sammy when I wanted some adventure, and about Willa when I needed something calm and reassuring.  Goldeye and Funnyfin were a constant, and I liked their banter - Goldeye being the sensible one, Funnyfin being more excitable and prone to the occasional outburst.

What made you want to do the illustrations for the book?
I couldn't say no to my big sister [Wild Sage Press publisher Barbara Kahan]. Haha!!! Of course, I wanted to honour Mom's memory, and I think she would have wanted me to do it.

What were the easy parts and what were the challenges of doing the illustrations for this book?
The easy part was saying yes, and just about everything after that was hard!!! And very, very rewarding.  I had never done anything remotely like this.  In most of my artwork I've had the composition I wanted to capture in front of me (as in still life) or I've worked from photos, whereas for these illustrations I had to paint from my imagination. In preparation, I spent hours looking at photos of different kinds of fish, then drawing them over and over until they began to change and assume recognizable characters. Then I had to make them come to life and interact with each other and with the ocean. The "tea party" at the end of the book was particularly challenging, getting all the characters into one painting (including the tea pot!!!).

Do you have a favourite illustration? 
It's hard to choose - I feel guilty, as though I'm naming a favourite child! But I admit I have a fondness for the illustration which shows Willa spouting Goldeye and Funnyfin into the air with excitement. I like the Sammy and the seahorses illustration too. I have to say I did enjoy the seahorses and will miss painting them, they were fun.

Is there a relationship for you, as a professional musician, between your painting and your music?
There are so many wonderful parallels. Artists and musicians use a lot of the same language. We both refer to rhythm, direction, contrast, colour, and line.  Any of the arts open up worlds for you that you never knew existed. I began taking art classes as an adult and I truly believe that I "see" differently now - the world is a much richer place to look at, in the same way that the world is a richer place to hear for a musician. 

Anything else?
It's been a huge honour and a privilege to work with my sister the publisher!! She is wickedly smart, insightful, thoughtful, funny, and full of surprises. I have learned a great deal from her. I feel very lucky to have had this experience....and to have Barbara as my big sister!! 


Gratefully acknowledged are donations from Meldon Kahan and Jerome Summers to support the production of this book. 

The Creative Industry Growth and Sustainability program is made possible through funding provided to the Saskatchewan Arts Board by the Government of Saskatchewan through the Ministry of Parks, Culture, and Sport. 

Goldeye and Funnyfin: A Publishing Story

Goldeye and Funnyfin's publishing story is now available to anyone interested in working with children to understand how publishing works. Adults will also enjoy it! Below are the visuals that tell the story, and the guide that accompanies the visuals.

  • Visuals for Goldeye and Funnyfin: A Publishing Story
  • Guide to Goldeye and Funnyfin: A Publishing Story


Photo Gallery


illustrations in progress













A Goldeye and Funnyfin admirer reviewing the proofs.

Another fan reading her favourite book. 

Photos below are of preparation for and of the actual launch itself (
November 3, 2013, at Connaught Library, the launch's co-sponsor). Connaught Library staff performed The Goldeye and Funnyfin puppet show, complete with sea shell house. More launch photos are on the Events page.















The photos below are of the November 2, 2013 Toronto launch. More launch photos are on the Events page.

















January Vertigo reading: the framed photo is of Goldeye and Funnyfin author Fannie Kahan. Photos are by David Solheim.









Photos below are of the Connaught School book launch (March 18 in Regina). Regina Pubic Library's Connaught Branch performed its Goldeye and Funnyfin puppet show. Visit the Events page to see more photos of the program. Photos are by David Rosenbluth.


Photos from the Words in the Park event (August 20, 2014, Regina, partnered by 
the Saskatchewan Writers Guild, Connaught Branch Library and Wild Sage Press). Connaught Library performed it's Goldeye and Funnyfin puppet show. See more photos on the Events page.










 Sharon Kahan at Beth Jacob Synagogue, April 10, 2016, where she read an excerpt from Goldeye and Funnyfin. Visit the Events page for more details. Below is a draft of her introduction to the story she read, where she compares the characters in Goldeye and Funnyfin to her family!







Wild Sage Highlights