Heather Fell in the Water

Doug MacLeod, illustrated by Craig Smith
AUD $24.99
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A hilarious story about a little girl who is afraid of the water, but ultimately makes friends with it - and learns to swim.

Heather was a little girl.who always fell in the water. She didn't mean to do it. She didn't enjoy it. But she fell in the water nearly every day, and so her parents made her wear water wings all the time.

Find out how Heather overcomes her fear in this warm and funny story from a much-loved team.

'A mix of realism, sensitivity and slapstick humor.All goes swimmingly at the end.' New York Times

Author bio:

Doug MacLeod is one of Australia's leading writers of comedy, and has been part of the creative teams that have produced popular TV shows like Kath and Kim, The Comedy Company and Fast Forward. He has written 26 books, several of which have been illustrated by Craig Smith, including the award-winning bestseller Sister Madge's Book of Nuns. This story is completely true: his little sister Heather really did always fall in the water.

This story reminded Craig Smith of the time he slipped off a rain-sodden log into a running creek as a kid, and realised he was losing the struggle to stay up. Luckily he survived, and went on to illustrate over 370 picture books, junior novels and educational readers - approximately 8500 published drawings. About 300 of these drawings (the best ones) have been in collaborations with Doug MacLeod.

Category: Picture books
ISBN: 9781742376486
Awards: Short-listed, Speech Pathology Australia Book of the Year Awards, Lower Primary Category, 2013
Publisher: Allen & Unwin
Imprint: A & U Children
Pub Date: September 2012
Page Extent: 32
Format: Hard Cover
Age: 3 - 8
Subject: Picture books

Teachers reviews

This beautiful picture book is a most timely release onto the Australian market as summer approaches. With an alarming increase in beachside and swimming pool drownings in recent years, anything that may highlight the need for water safety is a most welcome addition to the duty of care armoury. Neither the text nor the illustrations would stand well alone, but as is usual with these two creators, the synergies between them make for a truly delightful result. Heather, based we read on the true story of Doug MacLeod’s own little sister, has some unfortunate experiences which lead her to be afraid of water, a fear often shared by littlies who can see the unpredictable power of the ocean and who decide it’s not for them. However, wise intervention leads to a great outcome for Heather and the surprise ending makes quite a splash too.
Craig Smith’s watercolour illustrations are brilliant: the facial expressions are just so appropriate and the “water” pages leave the reader reaching for a towel. A large well-bound hardback, with clear print helpful for beginning readers, Heather Fell in the Water is highly recommended for pre-school and Stage One, and for all parents of less than confident little swimmers.
Julie Davies

Learning to swim is a big issue for young children, their parents and teachers. The expert team of Doug MacLeod and Craig Smith have treated the issue with their usual consummate professionalism – words and pictures, simply funny. Heather is very accident-prone when she’s around water, especially when she’s wearing her good clothes. Her parents are so concerned for her safety they make her wear water wings all the time. Heather seems to find water to fall into, no matter where she goes. Fortunately Heather learns to swim and love the water, and all concerned live happily, if wetly, ever after. Water safety is a serious issue, and this delightful book makes learning to swim a very attractive prospect. If a test of a good picture book is that both the child and the adult reader will keep wanting to re-read it, then it gets full marks. It’s been road-tested on adults and young children, and they’re still laughing. It’s a lovely and very funny story, and will be very tempting to book-buyers, especially with summer here.
Martin Kriewaldt

Doug MacLeod is an established Melbourne writer for adults and children. He’s worked on TV comedy teams such as Fast Forward, The Comedy Company, Kath and Kim and Dogstar, and many will know his bestseller, Sister Madge’s Book of Nuns, first published more than 25 years ago. Craig Smith has illustrated more than 370 books over more than 35 years, several of these written by Doug MacLeod. Their talents combine again in Heather Fell in the Water. The result is polished and hilarious.
The little girl, Heather, is based on Doug’s sister, who really did have a propensity for falling into the water. She goes on colourful outings with her parents, and always manages to find water somewhere to fall into. Heather thinks water doesn’t like her, but she overcomes her fear and learns to swim, and there’s a very satisfying ending – both comedic and water-safe.
This large hardcover picture book is hard to fault. The text and drawings are detailed enough to invite study and simple enough to stay punchy.
I would say its cover is hard-pushed to convey all the fun that’s inside. But once they get a toe in, adults and children will want to plunge into this book and keep going back to it with the enthusiasm of swimmers at the pool on a hot day. It’s hard to think of a more entertaining inducement to learning to swim, short of getting wet. Many thanks for the opportunity to review this gem! Every kindergarten and lower primary library should have a copy of “Heather” being pulled from its shelves.
Andrea Deborde

This beautiful little story is about a young girl with a precarious relationship with water. No matter where she is, Heather manages to find herself falling into whatever water she finds. It becomes so bad that she decides that the water must hate her, and she’s starting to feel exactly the same way towards water. Eventually she must be courageous enough to learn to swim (in case she ever finds herself in deep water!) and the story follows the development of Heather’s relationship with water.

Young children will relate very well to this story of being brave enough to have a go, learning not to fear the water and to see learning to swim as an achievement. There are lots of little moments that will remind readers of their own lives, including school swimming lessons and water wings. Craig Smith’s illustrations are a beautiful companion to Doug McLeod’s story and together they will delight another generation of young swimmers and water-lovers alike!

Activity suggestions:
• Brainstorm a list of places that you can find water (eg. lakes, rivers, puddles, swimming pools, the ocean, the bathtub, etc).
• Discuss and list reasons why it is important to learn to swim. (You could reference the above list of water sources as well.)
• Have students recall the times when they have been in water. Write and record these experiences, perhaps as a class book for display.
• Prepare a sensory lesson exploring water. Students have to describe what it looks like, feels like, tastes like, smells like and hears like. Does it always smell/taste/etc this way? (Could discuss the difference between tap water and beach water.)
Stefanie Galvin, Heidelberg Primary School

Heather Fell in the Water is a very funny, clever and enjoyable story. The book has big, bright and beautiful illustrations of a little girl Heather. The illustrations paint a picture of how she always ends up in the water and what happens next. The children really enjoyed Heathers character and giggled as she fell into the water. The story starts with a little girl, Heather who always falls into the water. No matter how hard she tries, she ends up in the water nearly every day, so her parents made her wear water wings. Heather fell in the water at the farm, at an art gallery and a Japanese tea house. As the story unfolds, Heather has a fear of the water and refuses to take swimming lessons. Heathers parents take her to the pool and as she tiptoed in the water, she did not fall in, even with her water wings off. Heather could swim, really swim. The story has a fantastic message about overcoming our fears and you can do anything when you try really hard and believe in your abilities and in yourself. The class and I really enjoyed this story, as it was something we all have to learn, to swim. After we read the story the class and I talked about water safety and made our own water safety poster. We also talked about beach safety, lifeguards and swimming between the flags. I recommend this book to ages 3 and up.
Claire Evans

Heather Fell in the Water is a book perfectly suited to the 3-8yr old age range. It has delightful illustrations covering most of the page with minimal, simple to understand script. It is the story of a young girl who is always falling in the water and starts to become afraid of it. Her parents take her to a pool which she enjoys and she decides to take swimming lessons. She ends up becoming a champion in the school swimming race. Many children are hesitant about completing school swim schemes and this book would be an excellent introduction about fear of water and overcoming it. This book is well suited to ES1 and ST1 classes and provides many discussion opportunities about different forms of water.
Rita Maguire, Greystanes PS

Heather Fell in the Water is a wet tale of a little girl with a very real fear. Heather is always falling in the water! This instils in her a fear of water, that her parents decide to help her overcome. The humorous illustrations, by Craig Smith, give depth to the simple text, allowing parents and educators opportunities to discuss a common fear, and allowing the reader to empathise with Heather. 

The beautiful end papers give a fitting beginning and end to the book depicting that it is a journey that Heather goes through to overcome her fear. This is a very readable share aloud story, with opportunities for laughter, as well as opportunities for children to ‘read the pictures’. The combined team of Doug MacLeod and Craig Smith have produced a story that will be enjoyed over and over by children of any age. Teachers would be wise to make the most of the cover illustration using it as a prompt for an “I think, I feel, I wonder” activity.

Other activities that could be used to extend thinking and literacy are:
• Sharing stories about student’s own experiences with water.
• Writing a week’s diary entry about Heather and her water incidents.
• Writing extra pages that follow the same pattern: They took her to…Heather fell in the water.
• Thinking about the tools used by the author and illustrator to create humour.
• Creating a Water Word Wall using the five senses to describe water.
• Using the book as a lead in to discussing water safety, or fear of water.
• Picking an illustration and writing speech bubbles for Heather’s parents
• Writing the story from Heather’s parent’s point of view.
Katharine York, Teacher Librarian, Chairo Christian School

Accident – prone Heather falls in the water nearly every day creating great anxiety for her parents. They decide water-wings (floaties) are the way to protect her from every puddle, fountain, lake, trough etc. that she encounters. Heather believes the water hates her and refuses to go to swimming classes with her school friends. Her parents decide she needs to learn to swim and take her themselves to the pool where she finds she likes the water after all. Heather likes the water so much she soon discards the water wings and learns to swim…SO well that she becomes a champion at the school sports. A delightful story in a format that lends itself well to reading aloud. I loved the illustrations of Craig Smith which are witty and complement the text really well. They are sure to please both the young reader and those involved in reading aloud sessions.
Christine Wright

What a wonderful funny book! Some parents can go over the top to protect us but the only have the best intentions. Heather is a clumsy, sweet young girl with a small problem with the water. Yet she is brave a overcomes her fear to find that all was not that bad. Many young children have small hidden fears. This book is a nice read to show children that most times it is ok in the end. It also shows them that they must try it before they decide that they don't like it or are afraid of it.
The sweet little girl and the beautiful illustrations make me instantly like Heather and her family.
This books opens much discussion about love, showing love and how love and support from family and friends can help us to be brave. Also been safe can be discussed and fears and dealing with overcoming our fears.
This story shows children that been scared is ok. Many adults and children are scared of similar things and talking about it can open up understanding. I had many discussions after reading this books. The children also wrote a similar story only adding their fears and made up a story of how the character could overcome that fear.
Heather Fell in the Water.... so sweet.
Stacey, St Bernards P.S, Wangaratta

Heather Fell in the Water is a book perfectly suited to the 3-8yr old age range. It has delightful illustrations covering most of the page with minimal, simple to understand script. It is the story of a young girl who is always falling in the water and starts to become afraid of it. Her parents take her to a pool which she enjoys and she decides to take swimming lessons. She ends up becoming a champion in the school swimming race. Many children are hesitant about completing school swim schemes and this book would be an excellent introduction about fear of water and overcoming it. This book is well suited to ES1 and ST1 classes and provides many discussion opportunities about different forms of water.
Rita Maguire, Greystanes PS

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