cover image Holly’s Day at the Pool

Holly’s Day at the Pool

Benson Shum. Disney-Hyperion, $16.99 (40p) ISBN 978-1-4847-0938-2

Most hippos love the water, but not the heroine of Shum’s first picture book, part of the Walt Disney Animation Studios Artist Showcase series. Holly has imagination to spare: when faced with the task of retrieving her sister’s favorite toy from a tree, Holly envisions herself climbing a mountain to rescue the piglet, Piggy Wig. But when it’s time to go to the pool, Holly’s flights of fancy aren’t quite so heroic. Decked out in a ruffled swimsuit, the small pink hippo asks her father a series of what-ifs as her worries play out dramatically. Concerned about the water being cold, Holly shivers on an iceberg; afraid of getting water in her eyes and ears, she recoils under a waterfall, while Daddy offers common-sense solutions (“Wipe the water away if it gets in your eyes”). A second chance to rescue Piggy Wig finally gets Holly in the water. Shum’s crisp, creamy illustrations never let Holly’s worst-case scenarios get too dark—they’re unlikely to provoke aquatic nervousness among readers—but the dialogue-driven text and tepid imagery don’t do much to move the story’s emotional needle. Ages 3–5. (Apr.)