Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Children's Book Review, Heather Fell in the Water



Children's Book Review by Susan Stephenson, www.thebookchook.com

Doug MacLeod and Craig Smith are a brilliant writer/illustrator partnership. Smith illustrated MacLeod's Sister Madge's Book of Nuns which I reviewed earlier this month. Recently I discovered the duo had created a children's picture book: Heather Fell in the Water, published by Allen and Unwin (2012).

Heather was a little girl...who always fell in the water. She didn't mean to do it. She didn't enjoy it. But she fell in the water nearly every day, and so her parents made her wear water wings all the time. Find out how Heather overcomes her fear in this warm and funny story from a much-loved team.

It's difficult to capture in words what makes a children's picture book great, but I'll try. This is a simple story of a little girl with a fear of the water. Kids who share that fear will relate to Heather's problem, but laugh despite themselves at Heather's plight. That's because MacLeod takes it to very funny extremes. His comedic timing is perfect! And yet it's a gentle humour, and the growing relationship between Heather and Water is portrayed beautifully.

I love the way Smith captures the essence of each subject. His years of observation and experience with over 370 books to his credit certainly impact our enjoyment. Kids will appreciate the many humorous details, and the way water itself is almost a character in the story.

Heather Fell in the Water would make an excellent acquisition for libraries everywhere. I predict young readers/listeners will enjoy the build up of each watery predicament and burst out in a chorus of "Heather fell in the water." Parents will appreciate the possibility of a way to help their kids have a more positive approach to swimming lessons. I think Heather Fell in the Water would also make a good choice for a class adaptation as a play or reader's theatre based on the book.

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