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Friday, February 14, 2014

The Bathing Costume, written by Charlotte Moundlic and illustrated by Olivier Tallec. Enchanted Lions, 2013. $17.50 ages 5 and up

"If I were to be completely honest, I'd tell Mama that I was the one who suggested to the cousins that we hold a competition to see who can wash the least over the vacation. I came up with this plan  because the bathroom is really, really old and the shower is full of spiders."

Myron knows it's going to be the worst vacation of his life...he just knows it! His parents are preparing for an upcoming family move and his grandparents have agreed to help out. Myron has never been there on his own. Mama has always been with him on vacation.

Grandma has some plans for him:

"Grandma also told me that at my parents' request she's going to have me do a little work every day. After summer vacation, I'll be going into third grade. I'm the shortest in my class and I haven't lost a single tooth. To top it all off, my teacher noticed that I've been having some difficulties with writing. On my report card , in the comments section, she wrote: "A dreamy, distracted student who is very nice to all of his classmates.""

Turns out that young Ronnie (aka Myron) is not the only relative sent to live with the grandparents. His obnoxious older cousins are going to be there with him. As he writes his weekly letter to his mother, he skips much of what is happening each day. He has enough smarts to know what needs to be left out for a doting parent. He doesn't tell her about throwing up in the car, of biking without helmets, or about the ramps!

Doesn't seem like such a bad time, does it? He does have one consuming worry.

"This summer I'm eight. And in the family,
the summer when you're eight is the summer when
you have to jump off the 10-foot diving board."

Ronnie will try the lower board first...even that terrifies him a bit. He'll leave the high board until the last day. His 'bathing costume' presents some problems as well. First, it is Martin's. Second, it is too big for Ronnie. Third, the cousins think it's very funny to try and tug it down. Fourth, the suit does fall down when he jumps off the diving board. Grandma promises a fix before they come again.

By the end of the week, Ronnie has to admit that it hasn't been too bad so far; but, the pool and its high board beckon:

"Grandma has sewn a terrible elastic thing into my
bathing suit to hold it up. But since she's not good
at sewing, my suit looks more like a diaper.
And I look like a sissy. Everyone in the
locker room snickers at me."

What happens as he prepares for and makes his high his dive will be a real surprise to all!

What a great story this is! It is full of emotion and new discovery. Readers will empathize with Ronnie as much as they will rejoice at his growing confidence. I warm watercolors, Herve Tallec takes us right along with Ronnie and his cousins as they enjoy the warmth and beauty of summer in the country. I love it!

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