Charles Fuge's Swim, Little Wombat, SWIM!
Children's book review by Jane Finch
A funny book about learning to swim
Little Wombat goes to pick apples and finds a new friend. This new friend has a strange walk, sort of shuffling from side to side, and a funny little face. He is Platypus and he can swim like a fish.
Wombat tries to walk like Platypus, and falls into the water. As he begins to sink, Platypus arrives and helps him to the surface and safely out of the water.
Platypus then decides to teach Wombat to swim. He takes him through the various stages of learning to swim, from holding on to the edge and kicking his legs, and then using a log to help him float.
After stopping for lunch and resting for a while, Wombat then learns to paddle like a dog and then to dive like a frog.
Soon Wombat’s friends Rabbit and Koala arrive and they watch as Platypus and Wombat have a swimming race.
Little Wombat and Platypus become great friends.
This is a great book about making new friends, but it also has a lesson in it too. It shows the importance of learning to swim, and how much fun it can be learning to get used to the water.
Even a simple sentence within the book about taking a rest after lunch before swimming again is a useful lesson to learn.
What I like about Swim, Little Wombat is it weaves a lot of life lessons into the story in a fun way so that a child probably does not even realise they are learning.
I love the idea of unusual animals like Wombat and Platypus. That opens up the opportunity to discuss these animals and their country of origin and why they are not native to the child’s own country.
The illustrations, done by the author, are colourful and mostly double page.
How the story tackles friendships and making new friends is interesting. Wombat begins by laughing at Platypus’ funny style of walking and unusual appearance, but almost immediately Platypus saves him from the bottom of the pond. Wombat quickly finds out what a great friend Platypus is, even though they look so different.
I like the way the two new friends join in to watch the race, and there is a nice touch at the end when Little Wombat suggests he be called Wom-Batypus.
An important feature of this story is that it is fun. The animals have comical faces which shows that they are enjoying their life lessons.
Even when Wombat falls into the water, Platypus arrives in an instant so there is no concern by the reader that something not very nice might happen to Little Wombat.
Finally, of course, is the attitude of Platypus. He is not put off at all by initially being laughed at, and is keen to make friends with Wombat and to help him by teaching him to swim, something that he knows will really help his new friend.
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