Lottie and Walter
40pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99
Lottie had a secret that neither her mother, baby brother or swimming teacher knew. At the bottom of the learners’ pool lived a shark that only wanted to eat Lottie. So every Saturday, Lottie would go to the pool, get changed, watch and wait and then get dressed again without getting wet. But then she met Walter the Walrus who liked the things she did- books, bubbles and fish fingers. So she told him her fears. Would Walter be able to help her before the pool party next Saturday?
Anna Walker, who created the iconic Mr Huff, has again used a child’s fear as a focus for her new picture book, exploring something common to many children and helping them understand that such fears can be overcome with a little help and imagination. Little people don’t always have the language yet to be able to articulate what is bothering them so Lottie’s use of a shark in the pool is a common device. Even though her mother and swimming teacher might be able to prove to her there is no actual shark in the pool itself(if they knew it was there), nevertheless it masks something that Lottie can’t express yet. The strength in the story lies in only Lottie knowing the secret and therefore only Lottie can sort it out, empowering her rather than making her dependent on grown-ups, demonstrating that both Lottie and the reader that little people can solve problems if given the space to do so.
Swimming is an essential skill that all Australian children need to master but there are many Lotties amongst them so this is a perfect book to share and discuss before swimming lessons begin, so that those who do have fears can realise they are not alone and can develop some strategies to overcome the “sharks in the water”.