cover image Albie the Lifeguard

Albie the Lifeguard

Louise Borden. Scholastic, $14.95 (1pp) ISBN 978-0-590-44585-6

When the town pool opens for the summer, Albie's exuberant friends sign up for the Dolphin swim team. But ``Albie looked at the lap lanes, long and blue''; discouraged because he can't swim the length of the pool without stopping, he confines himself to his big-splash ``cannonballs,'' underwater tea parties and diving for pennies. After all, ``Albie knew how to have a good time at the town pool.'' But an unconscious ambition sifts its way through his imagination: inspired by the lifeguard, Albie assumes make-believe authority at his backyard wading pool. Text and illustration join in amusing counterpoint as Albie's heroic rescues and serious duties are narrated alongside depictions of the actual events (e.g., Borden reports Albie's rescue of a grandmother with a leg cramp; the spread shows Albie putting a life ring around a dog's neck). Sayles's ( Nettie's Gift ) watercolors have a dreamlike quality--as if viewed through stage scrim--softening the impact of Albie's perceived shortcomings. Indeed, the seemingly aimless fantasies strengthen Albie's self-respect until he, too, takes his place as a Dolphin. A winning tale that indirectly and elegantly demonstrates the psyche's inventiveness. Ages 4-8. (May)