Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Sergio Makes a Splash

Rodriguez, Edel. 2008. SERGIO MAKES A SPLASH. New York: Little, Brown. ISBN 9780316066167 [Suggested Grade Levels PreK-2]

Sergio, a one-pound penguin with a curious smile, perky wings and a shaky tail, lives in Argentina. Although he loves water—for playing, relaxing in a tub, and for drinking—he harbors a fear of learning to swim. A class trip brings this problem into sharp focus but an encouraging teacher and supportive friends help Sergio overcome his fear. He takes the plunge armed with floaties, a snorkel, and a life preserver. On the way home, a tired and happy Sergio talks excitedly about the successful day. Even so, he hesitates at the idea of swimming without floaties next time. Readers will recognize change takes time.

Edel Rodriguez’s sophisticatedly simple illustrations combine digital media and woodblock prints in three ink colors: large expanses of cool turquoise become the backdrop of the ever-present sea; the penguin’s bodies and a few other details form a crisp contrast in black; and small touches of warm gold, like Sergio’s floaties and the school bus, jump off each page. An icy white, where no ink appears, also plays an important part in each page’s design. Large text makes this picture book a good fit for independent reading and the stylish illustrations make it a visually appealing read aloud.

Discuss the fact that all people fear some things and brainstorm things that might frighten children. Allow children to share stories of times when they have faced fear. They might follow up by writing down their stories or illustrating them.

Other books about overcoming fear:
Blevgad, Lenore. ANNA BANANA AND ME. ISBN 9780689711145
Helakoski, Leslie. BIG CHICKENS. ISBN 9780525475750
Polacco, Patricia. THUNDER CAKE. ISBN 9780399222313
Richards, Chuck. JUNGLE GYM JITTERS. ISBN 9780802789310

By Suzy Parchman

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