A pink, suburban hippo is afraid to swim.
As the book opens, Holly’s imagining that she can rescue Piggy Wig, her younger sister’s favorite stuffed toy, from a tree. (Although readers see her scaling an imaginary mountain, they never see her actually fetch the toy, but it is in little Dottie’s hands in the next spread.) When Daddy arrives to take the siblings to the pool, Holly balks. Her overactive imagination creates an arctic scene with freezing water and then a scary forest waterfall. Daddy calms her down. Other scenarios follow, but each time her wise parent offers helpful suggestions. At the pool, which is full of friendly animals, Holly is still afraid, but when Piggy Wig falls in, Holly knows she must rescue him again. She starts slowly but follows Daddy’s advice and successfully braves the pool to save the toy. Daddy praises her efforts, but Dottie reminds her sister of her fear of snapping turtles. Holly goes into anxiety mode, but the turtle invites her to play. The pastel-colored anthropomorphic animals have a retro, cartoony look, and the story is paced like an animated short. (Shum is a Disney animator.) The dialogue-driven story doesn’t really go anywhere, Holly’s final, expressed fear (“what if…I never want to leave?”) completing her character arc but also lacking fizz.
Useful to share with children who are afraid of the water. (Picture book. 3-5)