Possum Fuzz and muskrat Cork are at odds over Fuzz’s reluctance to visit Cork’s house “in the middle of a pond” in this early-reader series entry.
Cork offers to teach Fuzz how to swim, but after a lesson on land pretending to paddle through tickly grasses, Fuzz declares, “Swimming is not a possum thing to do.” He decides to climb out on a branch over the pond to jump down on Cork’s house, and Cork can barely watch as Fuzz gingerly makes his way along the branch—which ends up being a bit short. Startled by a bird, Fuzz falls into the water. Cork immediately dives in, and, in controlled text that ingeniously repeats words introduced earlier, he implores his friend to “paddle” and “kick.” Safe and sound at book’s end, the friends delight in Fuzz’s swimming skills as Cork mulls over an offer of tree-climbing lessons. Throughout, Chaconas expertly controls and repeats vocabulary, delivering a tightly paced, engaging story arc over four brief chapters. McCue’s accompanying illustrations, reminiscent of Garth Williams’ use of line to create visual texture, strike a fine balance between echoing key textual events and terms and extending the narrative.
This swimming lesson will make learning to read a pleasure. (Early reader. 6-8)