PICTURE BOOK REVIEWS: Swim, Jim by Kaz Windness & The Runaway Pea Washed Away by Kjartan Poskitt & Alex Willmore



ABOUT THE BOOK

Jim the crocodile finds the courage to face his fear of swimming in this funny and charming debut picture book for fans of Jabari Jumps and Jean Reidy’s Truman!

Jim the crocodile is scared of swimming—or rather, of sinking. His family’s swamp is just too deep, too dark, and too big. But maybe he could swim, if only there were a smaller swamp where he could try it on his own terms. Jim wiggle-waggles far and wide until he finds the perfect place.

With the help of some floaties and his sisters, Jim just might find the courage to face his fear and show everyone—including himself—that Jim can swim!

REVIEW

There is something remarkable funny about a crocodile wearing floaties while attempting to stick a toe in the water.  The cover of this book immediately made me want to read the book, and children are likely to react the same way.  Interestingly, the back cover shows a completely different image.  The picture shows the crocodile looking over a fence at a bunch of children swimming in a pool.  Under the book jacket the crocodile floats peacefully in the swamp in his floatie. All of these illustrations raise questions in the observer about what is coming.  The illustrator/author does a great job here in catching a child's interest.  It doesn't hurt that the crocodile is so adorable.  It's clear from the beginning that Jim is much more cautious than his siblings, Sim and Kim.  And it doesn't help when his siblings tease him about his fears. Instead of giving up though, Jim leaves a note and sets off to find another place to learn how to swim.  After finding a human swimming pool and watching the kids swim with their floaties, Jim decides to give it a try, after the kids leave.  When his family shows up, they help him learn to swim. The real test though when he returns to the swamp.  This adorable book highlights not only the importance of facing our fears, but that it is easier to do when assisted by loved ones.  The illustrations are delightful and highly appealing with lots of fun details (like the mother crocodile reading this book). Crocodile facts are included in the back matter along with a short bibliography.  All in all, a really fun book that I heartily recommend.




ABOUT THE BOOK

This silly and quirky kitchen escape about a rebellious pea’s trip down the drain shows what can happen when you take your eyes off your food—perfect for fans of Sue Hendra, Paul Linnet, and Jory John!

The Runaway Pea is off the plate again…and this time he’s bounced right down the drain! It’s cold and dark, but he’s not the type who gets grum-pea. Instead, the Runaway Pea is having an amazing time splashing and sliding toward the sewer and making new acquaintances along the way! But are Duck, Fish, and Frog looking for a new friend? Or for a little green snack?

REVIEW

This silly book follows the adventures of a green pea that gets washed down a sink and into the sewer.  While floating through the sewer, the pea meets a spider who is terrified.  The pea invites the spider to latch on for a ride.  The pea laughs as they get carried out of the sewer into a creek where they meet a duck, a fish, and a frog, all of whom the spider swears are out to get them.  But the pea, ever the optimist, asks the frog for help.  The contrast between the spider, a definite pessimist, and the pea makes for an entertaining read.  With the delightful rhyming text full of ups and downs and twists and turns this is bound to be an enjoyable story time read aloud.  There's also a strong lesson here about gratitude, or rather the lack of it.  Willmore's bright, expressive illustrations are very eye-catching and fun.  The pictures of the sewer elicited especially strong feelings when I read this to students. An enjoyable tale emphasizing gratitude and optimism.

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