91+/100 (9.1+ out of 10)
Scared to Swim is another stellar book by our most prolific children's author, Tuula Pere!
It follows a little girl named Lillian as she pursues learning to swim, something which initially proves to be an arduous, challenging, uncomfortable, and even scary endeavor.
What really makes this book stand out and shine is how relatable Lillian and her struggles are. If you were to replace the topic of swimming with something like learning to ride a bike, speak a new language, go skydiving, or run your first marathon, you would still be able to empathize with what Lillian is going through. It's something that all of us, at one point or another, struggle with: doubt, fear, apprehension, and discomfort in experiencing or trying something new.
Fear comes in a lot of forms: the fear of failure, the fear of letting others down, the fear of looking foolish, the fear of dying (in this case, drowning), and the fear of getting hurt. These are very common fears and concerns that most of us have experienced at one point or another.
The truth of the matter is, when you first learn to ride a bike, you're probably going to experience a few falls, scrapes, and bruises. Similarly, when you first learn to swim, having your face submerged underwater is going to be new and uncomfortable. One of our judges has a swim instructor in their household. Swim instructors see these issues all the time, and it's hard for them too. They don't want to feel like they're causing suffering and distress to their pupils, but that's often part of the process, especially early on.
Although the art isn't stellar, it isn't necessarily bad. It's good enough to facilitate the great characters and relatable story. It also has a bit of style and character of its own. You can still distinguish between characters and things. You can still tell what's going on.
The other issue is that the text is sometimes too small and a little difficult to read. There also appears to be a slight text-wrapping issue on paragraph one of page 8, causing some of the words to appear connected.
All in all though, this is such a good, relatable story.
We encourage you to check it out on Amazon, especially if your children are trying something new like swimming!