Review Blog

Oct 26 2012

Heather fell in the water by Doug MacLeod and Craig Smith

cover image

Allen and Unwin, 2012. ISBN 978 1 74237 648 6.
(Ages: 4+) Highly recommended. Picture book. Humour. Water safety. Heather has such difficulty staying out of the water wherever she and her family go, that they make her wear water wings all the time to keep her safe. Chasing the cat, a day at the farm, visiting the Japanese gardens, even a trip to the Art Gallery, all end in the same way, Heather falling into whatever water is to be found.
Wearing her water wings, Heather refuses to take swimming lessons at school, because she is convinced that the water simply does not like her. But one day her parents take her into the pool, each holding one of her hands, allowing her to get to know the water. She finds that she has a special fondness for the water, removes her water wings and develops skills. A neat ending brings all the delight in this book together in the refrain.
The repeated refrain will have children looking for the increasingly familiar words as the pages are turned, and they will shriek with delight at the reworked final sentence. The illustrations will take the readers from Heather's accidents with water to her increasing skill, and so readers will imagine themselves in a similar predicament with its positive ending.
With MacLeod's zany view of life, filled with gentle humour and recognisable situations, matched again with the wonderful illustrations by Craig Smith, this winning duo has created again a picture book to take the fancy of anyone who opens it, be they children, parents or teachers. All will see the faintly ridiculous, the lessons to be learnt, the humour in the story, and the strong family connections and the familiarity of the situation.
Published in a larger than usual hard cover edition, this book is ready for some serious use, and will rarely be on the shelves.
And grandparents reading the story will no doubt have the refrain from the Goon Show in their heads, 'He fell in the water', Spike Milligan, adding another level of humour for the reader.
Fran Knight

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