Johnston author hopes fish story teaches lesson of inclusion

Meet 'Frankie The Flashlight Fish'


Every child is unique; every human being distinctive.

People, however, don’t always celebrate our differences.

Johnston children’s book author Katie Hevey hopes a tale about a misfit fish will teach a lesson about inclusion.

Frankie the flashlight fish had something extra.

He had fins, gills and a heart, just like all the other fish.

“Something also set Frankie apart,” Hevey writes in her second book, named for its protagonist, “Frankie The Flashlight Fish.” “Set beneath both of his eyes, Frankie had two organs of impressive size.”

A flashlight fish, or lantern-eye fish, includes “any of three species of fishes … characterized by the presence of luminescent organs just below the eye,” according to Encyclopedia Britannica. “They are among the few species of non-deep-sea fishes to possess such organs.”

Poor Frankie takes a ribbing from the other species swimming around his school. Eventually, following a Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer-esque experience, all the other fish in the sea realize Frankie’s peculiar characteristic makes him a special, integral part of their community.

“The fish are swept away in a storm, and Frankie uses his lights,” Hevey said during an interview among the stacks of children’s books downstairs at the Marion J. Mohr Memorial Library in Johnston. “It’s a little bit like Rudolph. I want this book to help kids understand they’re all unique.”

Hevey, a National Board Certified Special Educator in science teaches at Cranston West.

“Having grown up in the Ocean State, it seems only natural that Katie’s first book would celebrate the diversity of sea life,” according to the author’s biography at the end of “Frankie The Flashlight Fish.” “Katie has a BA in Journalism from the University of Rhode Island. She started writing and illustrating children’s books as a way to simultaneously educate and entertain her daughter. Katie’s mission in sharing these books with others, is to spark curiosity, make information accessible, and invite young readers to share in her love of learning.”

Flashlight fish are all small, and reach a maximum length of about 12 inches. They look a little bit like a dark goldfish with glowing cheeks.

So, flashlight fish aren’t big and they aren’t scary. But they can use their iridescent faces to illuminate dark underwater environments and communicate with other sea life.

“Bioluminescent bacteria create the light continuously, but each species has its own mechanism for decreasing the luminescence when swimming,” according to Encyclopedia Britannica. “Some fishes create a blinking effect by alternately covering and uncovering the light.”

“There are differences between people too,” Hevey said. “Everyone learns differently and acts differently. That’s something to celebrate. The world needs all type of people.”

And the sea needs all types of fish.

Hevey has been teaching for 12 years (two in Cranston and the rest in Providence).

“This is something I’m telling my students every day,” Hevey said. “I want them to have more self-confidence.”

Hevey’s first book, “Sharks Don’t Sleep,” also featured an underwater setting and a cast of aquatic characters. She has been writing for three years, and publishes her books through Pen It! Publications. Her first two books are available for sale at, and for online purchase at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Hevey, a Providence native and Johnston resident, lives with her husband Corey, 5-year-old daughter Caroline, and their mutt Dahlia.

She based Bettie Blue, one of the main characters in “Sharks Don’t Sleep,” on her daughter. Hevey also illustrates the books herself, using a variety of computer programs.

“I wanted the books to come to life myself,” she said.

Hevey hopes readers find a bit of truth between the covers of her books. They’re not merely fish stories.


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