Anne F. Rockwell, , illus. by Paul Meisel. . HarperCollins, $15.99 (40pp) ISBN 978-0-06-028441-1

The team behind Morgan Plays Soccer creates a heroine who proves a role model for those who fear the water. When Katie Catz refuses to go to the Porker twins' pool party ("What a dumb place to have it!"), her mother decides it is high time she learn to swim. Katie nervously arrives at the town pool for her lesson with swimming instructor Patsy Polarbear, who proves a patient and resourceful teacher. She slowly builds Katie's confidence at the poolside until the heroine hops into the water: "Yum—I see a delicious-looking vanilla ice-cream cone up in the clouds! Why don't you float and tell me what you see?" she coaxes. Small scenes set off by the blue water on a white background chronicle Katie's progress (putting her toe in the water, splashing her teacher, splashing herself, dunking, floating, kicking, stroking, breathing between strokes), and demonstrate each victory until a full-spread painting shows Katie's triumphant lap across the shallow end. Meisel's characterizations of cats, dogs, raccoons, giraffes and others clothed in colorful bathing suits with tails sticking out and romping around the pool will tickle many funny bones, as will pictures of Katie fearfully imagining monsters in the drainpipes as a smiling crocodile glides by on a kickboard. Subtly addressing the social implications involved, Rockwell avoids didacticism, and focuses instead on the rewards of courage and hard work. Ages 4-6. (May)