The Whale in My Swimming Pool

As a children’s librarian, much of my time is spent researching and reading picture books. It’s a tough job, but somebody has to do it! I’m currently offering a series of outreach story times for children in the community who might not otherwise be able to attend library programs. Many of these kids have already faced serious challenges in their lives, and a number of them struggle with self-regulation and behavioural expectations. In other words, these kids are absolutely amazing, but they can also be a real handful.

The most successful picture books for my story times balance short, energetic texts with a good dose of humour. A lot of preschool texts are simply too long for my groups, while toddler books are far too young and babyish. What I need are essentially hi-lo picture books – books that offer high interest stories with a lower reading level.

As you might imagine, these kinds of picture books can be likened to unicorns – beautiful, magical, and ridiculously rare. So whenever I find a book that works perfectly at my outreach story times, I just have to share it with the world.

The Whale in My Swimming Pool by Joyce Wan is the sweet, silly, slightly surreal story of a little boy who discovers a giant whale squatting in his swimming pool. As long as the whale remains lodged in the pool, the little boy won’t be able to swim. What is a boy to do?

Wan’s illustrations just leap off the page with their bold, simple lines and bright colours, making them perfect for sharing with a large group of children. The characters are adorable and very cheery, but aren’t at all babyish or cutesy, which is ideal for preschoolers.

As you might expect, the whale and the boy form a mutually-beneficial alliance, using ingenuity to solve their problem of limited pool real estate.

The Whale in My Swimming Pool is fun, sweet, silly, and perfect for story times. The surprise on the last spread also suggests a sequel, which I will await with bated breath.

Caldecott Contenders – The Airport Book

Caldecott Contenders – The Airport Book

Well, the 2017 ALA award winner and the honourees have been announced – did any of your favourites take home some hardware? The thing about awards is that they’re very subjective. The Caldecott award committee assesses contenders with specific guidelines in mind, but there’s still plenty of room for individual preferences, opinions and decisions to come […]

Oskar and the Eight Blessings

Oskar and the Eight Blessings

Hannukah starts Saturday December 24 and ends Sunday January 1, so a very happy Hannukah to everyone who celebrates! In honour of the start of Hannukah, I’m sharing a beautiful, elegant picture book that has a particular poignancy in our messy modern world. It is a story about everyday blessings, and the ways in which […]

Tree of Cranes by Allan Say – メリークリスマス

Tree of Cranes by Allan Say – メリークリスマス

I’m currently in the Land of the Rising Sun, exploring wintery Japan from tip to tail and soaking in this unique country in all its wonder. In honour of my Japanese extravaganza, I’m taking at an intercultural, inter-generational Christmas story brought to us by celebrated, award-winning and deeply treasured Japanese-American author/illustrator Allan Say. When I was […]

Little Rabbit’s Kwanzaa

Little Rabbit’s Kwanzaa

ARGH! You know what’s been driving me NUTS recently? Trying to find Kwanzaa books that actually sound, look and feel like they’ve been written for children who ALREADY CELEBRATE KWANZAA. Take a look at the Christmas section at your local library and you know what you’ll find? Picture books that don’t just explain Christmas, but which […]