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Saturday, February 13, 2016

Swimming, Swimming, written and illustrated by Gary Clement. Groundwood Books, 2015. $18.95 ages 3 and up

"Swimming, swimming
In a swimming pool.
When days are hot
When days are cold
In a swimming pool.
Fancy diving too!
Oh don't you wish you
never had anything else
to do?"

On freezing cold days on the Canadian prairies, as today is, most people living here allow themselves to dream about the weather warming and the fact that summer will come again. No matter how HARD that is to believe when the wind chill temperatures dip into the mid -40s! Perhaps that dreaming includes happy days at the pool.

This song was always a go-to favorite when I was teaching in early years classrooms. It is a song that I sing daily to my granddaughter, who doesn't mind if I am off-key, so long as I am singing. How cool is that?

With kindergartners, we used the actions shown in the video at the end of this post. It was great fun! We will try that as Sicily gets older. In the meantime, I will put this fun book on her shelf to share with her when she is next here for a visit. Maybe we will even make a trip to the pool where I once swam.

The public outdoor swimming pool at the fairgrounds was one of our haunts on hot summer days when we were growing up. The water was clear and COLD, and we loved that. I looked forward to spending time with my friends and to taking swimming lessons there. So many people, so much noise, and always a great deal of fun to be had.

This could be our story .... friends at the pool on a summer day. It's pretty ordinary but most enjoyable nonetheless.  There are four of them - three boys and a girl. The swim stroke endpapers are inviting and informative, including each of the book's characters in one of the demonstrations. The main character is obviously a swimming enthusiast. It is easy to tell by the posters that enhance his walls, the swimming paraphernalia on his floor. Once ready for the walk to the pool, he meets his friends at the end of the sidewalk and they are off for a day of exercise and sun.

It is wordless until the four are finally fully wet, and in the water. Then, they burst into a song about the joys of being just exactly where they are. Once they are out of the pool, we return to silence and depend on Gary Clement's pen and ink and watercolor images to finish their tale. The boy returns home, has dinner, feeds his fish and heads for bed. It's the end of another fun-filled summer day!

This book should be on the desks of city councillors struggling with the need to cut the budget, and planning to do so by closing community swimming pools! These pools do now, and have always, brought joy and lasting memories for those kids who flock to swim there. Please, try to remember that when making decisions about the cuts that must be made.

Check out if you want to see how to act out this perennial favorite.

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