Annie and the waves by Louise Lambeth
Illus. by Carissa Harris. Louise Lambeth, 2018. ISBN: 9780648435709.
Holidays are coming and Annie and her family are heading to the beach for a week. It's their first time and Annie is very glad that some surf lifesavers have come to her school to teach her about the nature of waves and how to stay safe in them. But when she is confronted with the actual thing she is very daunted and it takes time and a chat with a surf lifesaver to pluck up the courage to take the first step. But sometimes a little bit of confidence can be overestimated and Annie finds herself having to put what she has learned to the test.
Over the Australian summer of 2017-2018, 249 people drowned in our waters, and while the majority of these were young men taking risks and drinking alcohol, nevertheless it could be argued that the lessons learned in schools about surf safety prevented many more, particularly among children. So, with warm weather here already and summer holidays being planned, this is a timely book to share with students to reinforce those messages. Uncluttered by rhyme and rhythm and extravagant illustrations, the plot is simple and the message unfettered - you can be safe in the ocean and here's how. It's not about being cocky but being confident because you respect the danger and know how to minimise it.
Although Annie's experiences drive the story, the key theme is taking care, being able to recognise "safe" waves, knowing the role of lifesavers, swimming between the flags and never swimming alone. And while teachers and parents can talk about these for ever, it is the impact of a story, perhaps coupled with a visit from some surf lifesavers that is likely to stick and perhaps keep our children safer. Written by a surf lifesaver who has seen what can happen firsthand, the rules for beach safety are clearly written at the front (perhaps inspiring a poster activity to illustrate them) and reiterated with a quiz at the end, and there is also a link to BeachSafe, a website and app that provides information about the conditions about every Australian beach, including rips.
Endorsed by Surf Lifesaving Australia, this is a critical addition to your health and safety program and resources. As well as the small book format, it is also available as a big book and an education bundle. There is also an audio book being produced so those who find it difficult to access print for whatever reason, do not miss out on this vital message. And although, on the surface, it appears to be for early childhood, we have many students who have arrived in Australia older than that who need to hear this message now and share it with their parents because while the beach can be our greatest drawcard it can also be our greatest tragedy for those not familiar with it. Let's do all we can to ensure our students and their families are safe in the surf this summer. A video is available.