Score: 90/100 (9.0 out of 10)
“Ronnie's Pool” by Lindsay Ann Fink is an adorable little children's book that features anthropomorphic animals and virtues such as teamwork, hard work, and developing a positive mindset that can turn lemons into lemonade.
The book features some pretty cute and compelling characters, most notably the titular Ronnie, a blue bunny rabbit! Ronnie has some admirable traits. Firstly, he's creative, imaginative, and inventive. Second, he never gives up and demonstrates a great work ethic. Third, he finds ways to turn even negative situations into positive ones such as when he decides to turn his pool, which had frozen over during the winter, into a skating rink for him and his friends.
Similar to what we saw in “Fixing Nick” last season, this book features other great animal characters who come over to help Ronnie accomplish the monumental task of building the pool. At the same time, some of the animals, like in real life, are too busy or uninterested. Others try to help indirectly and/or in other ways, such as when Arlene the Bunny doesn't want to get dirty digging the pool but instead supplies carrot juice for all the workers. Thomas the Turkey, who also doesn't want to physically get involved, still offers to fan out the feathers that he's so proud of in order to provide shade for the others. Dane the Dog and Lucky Ducky contribute greatly to the building alongside Ronnie the Bunny because something about the building appeals to them individually. Dane the Dog loves digging holes, and Lucky Ducky loves the idea of having a pool available to him in the summer.
The book has some slight things that hold it back, particularly as an illustrated children's book. The art and the presentation are quite outdated for the 2020s, appearing to be more like what you'd see in a children's book from the 80s or early 90s. There's an almost meta-textual look and feel to this, it's kinda difficult to describe. The creator takes actual photographs and interposes their art into it. This might have been incredible in an almost “Who Framed Roger Rabbit?” sort of way, but the reality is that the photographs that serve as the background appear like they were taken either on an early 2000s flip-phone or a disposable Polaroid camera. On pages 5 and 7, you can even see some of the vertical lines that are typical of old school picture developments. And all the pictures seem to have a blue tint to them, perhaps matching with the color scheme of the book. Unfortunately, Ronnie is also blue and so is Dane the Dog and Thomas the Turkey, so there are times when they don't stand out as much as they should because of the background and the blue tint. What's also missing is some of the more playful language (like rhymes) that make children's books more appealing.
At the same time, the cleverness and level of creativity that it must've taken to incorporate real-life photographs with hand-drawn art is incredibly admirable. That's partly why we boosted the score from 8.7 to an 8.8.
Further elevating this book is the message, which raised it to a 9.0. If you're a parent or a teacher, you can definitely use this as a tool to teach them about things like using your imagination, pursuing a goal, working hard, and persevering despite setbacks.
Check out this book on Amazon!