March 11, 2016

Going for a Sea Bath

by Andrée Poulin
Illustrated by Anne-Claire Delisle
Pajama Press
32 pp.
Ages 5-8
March, 2016

What is it with so many kids and baths?  For Leanne, “It’s so boring! It’s annoying! It’s a pain!”  But her father has an idea (or more than several) how to make it more fun and it has him running back and forth to bring the sea in to her bathtub.

There’s one turtle, then two eels, three clown fish, and four seahorses.  At the four seahorses, Leanne is exclaiming, “Taking a bath is exciting! It’s the best!”  But her father, delighted in  making his daughter happy, continues to feed her requests for more or different with five shrimps, six hermit crabs, seven sea urchins, eight anemones, nine starfish and ten octopi.  Needless to say, that bathtub becomes a little crowded and they must find a solution to a new problem.

Taking a bath has never been so much fun!  The repartee between father and daughter is priceless. There is such warmth and affection that it’s easy to see why Leanne’s father would take such delight in his daughter’s joy.  He’s a little goofy, with his paunch, flat feet and receding hairline, but he’s all about being a good dad.  And little Leanne, with her head full of curls and splattering of freckles, is the quintessential inquisitive child with eyes and heart wide open.

Though Andrée Poulin’s text is based on counting, and would be a fun way for parents or teacher to help young children with numbers,  Going for a Sea Bath is so much more than that.  It’s a fun romp at bath time, with a tub full of different sea creatures, while looking at their behaviour and physical characteristics (though I didn’t know octopi knew how to use a toilet or that the hermit crab would enjoy playing with toilet paper!) Andrée Poulin, whose award-winning The Biggest Poutine in the World I recently reviewed here on CanLit for LittleCanadians, is staggerinly effective in her story-telling, whether for the very young or middle-grade.

From Going for a Sea Bath by Andrée Poulin, illus. by Anne-Claire Delisle
But the precious factor for Going for a Sea Bath goes beyond priceless because of Anne-Claire Delisle’s illustrations. The details in all the animals and in the scenes she composes of Leanne and her father amongst the backdrop of the bathroom are so full that I continue to look back on the book and find more and more features that delight.  From the shrimp draped in Leanne’s hair and the reclining turtle to the octopus squeezing shampoo from a bottle, Anne-Claire Delisle’s artwork is charming.

And, if there isn’t enough to love about this book, teachers will love talking synonyms with the adjectives, like magnificent, phenomenal and super-stupendous, that Leanne’s father uses to describe each new idea.  Going for a Sea Bath is  some kind of wonderful!

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