Lottie and Walter by Anna Walker
Puffin Books, 2019. ISBN: 9780143787181.
(Age: 3+) Recommended. Themes: Fear, Swimming, Swimming lessons, Confidence. When Lottie goes to the pool with her webbed feet ready to swim, she cannot dive in. She knows a secret, one her mother or baby brother or even the swimming teacher do not know; there is a shark in the pool and it wants to eat her. Each Saturday morning she goes to the pool, gets into her swimming gear, then takes them off again when ready to leave. She does not even get wet.
One day mum tells her that the next Saturday will be the pool party. She reminds Lottie how much she enjoys parties.
Lottie is confused, but when she looks into the puddle at her feet, she sees, not a shark but a walrus. Walter follows her home, where she discovers that he does not talk, but sings instead. He also likes books and bubble baths and fish fingers, just like Lottie. When she goes to sleep, Walter is there, singing away her fear of the dark.
The next Saturday, Lottie goes to the pool, and sits back watching her friends having a pool party. She does not join in but spying Walter in the pool, singing, she takes a giant leap.
This delightful tale of overcoming fears will resonate with all children who have a fear: fear of the dark, of spiders, of being alone, of swimming, of something new.
The book allows children to see that Lottie can overcome her fear, and encourages them to do the same.
The delightful watercolour illustrations will entice readers to seek out Lottie and Walter as they turn the pages, contrasting Lottie's worries with the enthusiasm of the rest of the group playing in the pool. Readers will simply adore Walter, watching out for him as he encourages Lottie to dive into the pool and join her friends. Mr Huff (2014) also by Walker, has a similar underlying theme, that of overcoming a fear, enjoining children to realise that their fear has no base and can be overcome. Both books deal with mental health in a way that encourages empathy. Teacher's notes are available.