Ellie, our favorite dachshund, is back in her second book. This time around she tells us that it is hard to swim because she is meant to be on dry land. The first page shows her underwater with her cheeks puffed out from holding her breath. She lists all the things she doesn't have such as fins and scales, and we see her being sent aloft on the plume of water from a whale's blowhole. But all of this is just to let us know what is coming. Her human approaches with a doggie life vest and Ellie leans against the dock with her paw to her forehead like a classic damsel in distress. She imagine that she might simply sink and no one will ever be able to find her. The creatures she pictures in this calm little body of water include fierce looking fish, a seahorse with fangs, a shark with a dinner table and napkin just waiting for a meal, even a fish with a fork. As her human lowers her toward the water she holds her paws to her chattering teeth, then calls out, "GOODBYE! I'm going in !" (Talk about drama.) Soon she is trying out different strokes across and even under the water and having a good time, while smiling fish watch.
Even though Ellie is a dog and not a child, it is still easy to learn from her example. She builds up so many possible dangers in her imagination, then finds out how much fun swimming can be. At the end of the day she is wagging her tail and saying that "if you give it a try, you can do anything you wish!" Those fish that she was so afraid would eat her are now smiling and holding up score cards like Olympic judges to praise her swimming. She even decides that since she learned to swim, maybe she can teach the fish to sit. The scene of Miss Ellie's classroom with the puffer fish upside down, the shark with a bite missing from its desk, and the goldfish beaming as it perches on a chair in its fishbowl helps young readers imagine what would happen if the fish could come onto land to learn a new skill.
Although this story shows Ellie learning to swim, the lesson could easily apply to any new situation that is making someone nervous. She shows that things are not nearly as bad as we imagine them to be, and that once you give something a try you usually find it to be much easier than you thought.
I read an e-book provided by the publisher through NetGalley.