Monday, October 12, 2009

Water's Fine! Don't Be Afraid, Little Pip by Karma Wilson

Little Pip looked out at the large ocean. Today was the day all young penguins were learning how to swim.

Pip sighed. The ocean looked awfully dark and deep.

A penguin who is afraid of the water? It seems impossible, but Little Pip is a penguin chick who refuses to get in the swim with the other eager little youngsters. Pip has a perfectly logical argument: she has wings, she has feathers, she is bird. Ipso facto, she can fly!

And that's what she sets out to do. A snowy petrel's takeoff instructions result in a nosedive into the sand, but then a giant albatross wisely offers advice about how to get Pip off the ground.

"Stand on the ledge by the edge of the sea.
Let your feathers set you free.
Lift your wings and spread them wide.
Jump into the breeze and away you'll glide."

Of course, as the albatross probably knew, Little Pip soars, not into the sky, but into the sea, where she learns that those wings can help her soar under the sea as well.

Pip held her breath.

Pip kicked.

Pip flapped. Pip swam!

Deep under the water and into the dark black sea went Pip. Whooosh! Whiiiiish! Wheeeeee!!

She swooped past the huge octopus, beautiful coral reefs and giant sea plants. She saw schools of fish as bright as a rainbow in the sky.

"Do you see me? I'm flying after all! Swimming is flying!"

Fear of new experiences is universal among young children, and like Pip, they can learn that facing the unknown by "doing what comes naturally" often leads to glorious new adventures. Karma Wilson's and Jane Chapman's latest collaboration, Don't Be Afraid, Little Pip(Simon & Schuster, 2009) is a lovely and welcome additon to their fine body of work, which, in addition to their first in this series, Where Is Home, Little Pip? (reviewed here), includes the many popular titles in their noted Bear Snores On books.

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