Were you a little nervous the first time you had to go to the dentist? Your first day of school? Your first time on a bicycle? We all were, and we can all relate to little Pip.
Pip is a young penguin who would much rather fly than swim. And yet, the big day is here—the day when little penguins learn to swim. Merry, her friend, is excited to finally dive into the ocean with all the other penguins. Pip is not excited at all. Instead, she is afraid of the dark waters and all the scary things that might be down there beneath the surface. So she seeks advice on how to fly, first from a Snow Petrel, and then from a Giant Albatross. The advice doesn’t get her airborne, but it does end up getting her to fall into the ocean, where, with Merry’s help, she begins to swim. She finds, to her wonder, that swimming is just like flying, but UNDER THE SEA!
The lessons here are clear—fears can be overcome, learning new skills and having new experiences can be fun, and exploring our world can be rewarding and joyful.
Wilson’s story doesn’t browbeat us into learning these lessons. We see Pip learning them and identify with her each step of the way. Chapman’s illustrations are marvelous—even though penguins aren’t naturally expressive to human eyes, she makes Pip’s fears and excitement quite clear without being cartoonish.
Don’t Be Afraid, Little Pip is a fun and reassuring read. The book speaks especially well to hesitant or shy children, since Pip is small for a penguin and is herself timid. If little Pip can triumph, so can I!
—Steve Mudd, author
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