Publishers Weekly - Publisher's WeeklyDespite the title, most of this debut children's book for both author and artist consists of excuses to avoid the water. When Jane's mother insists she must learn to swim, Jane rejects every reason to take the plunge. When her mother says that everyone swims, Jane says that cats don't, and tells her mother that she's "a cat on the inside. If you make me get in the water, bad things will happen." When her mother tries to persuade her with fashion, "I told Momma, Dinosaur bathing suit or not, I am never going to get in that swimming pool." Even at the edge of the pool, Jane defiantly crosses her arms and inveighs against swimming; her stubbornness is magnified by her stiff brown pigtails, her sharp nose and her decisive glare through pointy glasses. She won't budge from dry landthat is, until mean Jimmy chortles, "Chickens and girls can't swim." Osiecki combines jagged black outlines with lucid, computer-generated colors of deep blue, rosy pink and mint green. Her scratchboard technique adds a hand-hewn quality to the sharp edges, and it complements the text, which floats across the pages in uneven ripples. With Jane's nervous, nonstop chatter and spontaneous reaction to the swimming challenge, the author effectively shows the process of overcoming fears. If the narrator is a tad too loquacious about her predicament, readers still can relate to her anxiety and her strong line of defense.
Although she has found many excuses for refusing to take swimming lessons, Jane finally faces the inevitable and jumps into the water for a very good reason.
School Library Journal - School Library JournalPreS-Gr 2-Jane's mother signs her up for swimming lessons, but the child is completely opposed to the idea. When the big day arrives, Jane is standing next to Jimmy, who calls her a chicken, saying "Chickens and girls can't swim." Jane then makes a quick decision and jumps in the water, because obviously, "Jimmy doesn't know anything about girls." The text succeeds in maintaining a light, humorous tone while treating Jane's fear seriously. Even Jimmy's ridicule is funny in the context of the rest of the story. The accompanying illustration shows a big white chicken dressed in Jane's bathing suit. When the lesson is over, Jane reacts like every other kid who has put a parent through days of worry and says, "I don't know why they made such a big deal out of it. Everybody should learn how to swim." The unusual illustrations are perfect for the story, adding to the fresh, spirited feeling of the book. The artist did the black line work using traditional scratchboard technique, then the illustrations were scanned and digitally painted in Photoshop. The resulting lighthearted pictures have bright, clear colors accented by bursts of squiggle black lines or a pinking-shear type of border. In all, a useful title, sure to be enjoyed by nervous neophytes and expert swimmers alike.-Lucinda Snyder Whitehurst, St. Christopher's School, Richmond, VA
Kirkus ReviewsAlthough this story from newcomer Jay, about a young girl's reluctance to learn how to swim, is long-winded, it conveys a genuine sense of how children feel in the face of parental prompting. Momma explains to Jane that she must learn how to swim; threats, logic, nonsense ensue, and nothing but Jimmy's taunts convince Jane that she has to jump into the pool. And then she loves it. Osiecki combines personable scratchboard illustrations with some Photoshop coloration, to no significant effect, but the entire enterprise, if predictable, is friendly bibliotherapy.
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