Saturday Is Swimming Day
by Hyewon Yum; illus. by the author Preschool, Primary Candlewick 40 pp. g 6/18 978-0-7636-9117-2 $16.99
Like Nelly in No Swimming for Nelly, (reviewed on page 89), the unnamed little girl here is afraid of the water. Her strawberry-decorated swimsuit hangs invitingly from her wardrobe door, but she scrunches her face up and tells her mother that her stomach hurts. Once at the pool, she shrinks from getting into the water, and the teacher doesn’t insist. By the second lesson, she’s ready to get into the pool, albeit cautiously, and the teacher helps her practice “ice-cream scoops and kicks.” By the third Saturday, she is excited to go, and fully participates in the swim lesson. “And no stomachache!” Yum conveys the little girl’s fear and reluctance (juxtaposed with the exuberance and joy of the other children) through body language. In the locker room, she stands apart from the other kids (with their excited gestures and relaxed postures), hands behind her back, head down. As she becomes more comfortable, her limbs are more open and her expression becomes happy and engaged. Yum’s watercolor and colored-pencil illustrations show children with a variety of skin tones and features, including the main character, who appears to be Asian (and has a white mother and no father mentioned, adding an unspoken story some families may especially appreciate). There’s no preaching or reproach or trick here, just adults modeling the patience needed to give an anxious child time and space to try something new. susan dove lempke
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