WAVES IN THE BATHTUB
Volume 21 Number 4
I have a bias against stories in which the child's imaginary world is "explored," especially in the bathtub. There are exceptions, of course. But more often than not, I find such stories self-conscious and intrusive. Let's face it, not many children's imaginary worlds can match an introduction like "in Max's room a forest grew..."
That disclaimer noted, let me state that Waves in the Bathtub is cute. It might even be an enjoyable book for parents and children who like to share such stories. Kady is in the bathtub, where the waves get "bigger and bigger and BIGGER." She sings "The Bathtub Song." Interjected between the lyrics is Kady's mother calling her to keep the water in the tub, to wash her toes, and finally to get ready for bed. Music for "The Bathtub Song" appears at the end of the book. The tune and lyrics are simple, generic, and singable.
Eugenie Fernandes' water-colours are bright and full of mirth. Her style seems freer than in her previous bathtub book, Richard Thompson's Effie's Bath. Besides ocean creatures "great and small," Kady's cat joins in the bathtub adventure.
The one jarring element in the story is the ending. Kady's mother, off-stage until the end, not only enters to put Kady to bed, but also gets into to the bath and sings the bathtub song. The book's focus moves from the child to the adult, which is, I believe, a real mistake. It's the message that, in fact, parents and children are really alike after all that causes the imaginative elements to feel forced and self-conscious. Maybe parents reading the story need that reassurance, but children definitely do not.
Waves in the Bathtub is bright and cheerful and attractively packaged, but it is a book with more adult appeal than child appeal.
Theo Hersh is a children's librarian with Toronto Public Library in Toronto, Ontario.
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