Written by Toni Buzzeo, Illustrated by Margaret Spengler
Dial Books for Young Readers, 2004
Papa Loon calls to his timid Little Loon: Hoo Hoo Hoo Hoo Hoo Hoo. Time for diving lessons.
The plot in a nutshell: A young loon learns how to dive
Little Loon does not enjoy diving lessons and tries to get out of them. But Papa dips his head down and tail up to show him how. He wobbles back up. Papa demonstrates the correct way to dive, then dips him again. When Papa goes under to demonstrate again, Little Loon takes the opportunity to zip away from his lessons. As he approaches the shore, a moose appears and Little Loon is frightened. He looks for his Papa, but comes across a bear in the shallow water. He swims quickly away and nearly gets hit by a tree felled by a beaver. He hears his Papa on the other side of the fallen tree and, remembering how his Papa showed him, dives under the tree. When he pops up on the other side, his Papa is waiting for him. Papa tucks him under his wing and gives him a treat.
Author Toni Buzzeo drew inspiration from the loons that live in the lake near her mountain cabin and her own childhood fear of water to tell this story about a young loon who is forced to overcome his fear in order to be reunited with his father. As a parent, I really liked the patient way that Papa tries to teach Little Loon to dive, by showing him an example and then trying to help him do it himself. Young readers will likely enjoy the use of onomatopoeia and the larger text on the action words that describe the diving process.
Margaret Spengler uses pastels to create the lake environment where Little Loon and Papa live. There are lots of greens and blues in the pictures, which provide a really lovely contrast to the black and white coloring of the loons. The animals that Little Loon runs into while he is trying to find his way back to his father are actually drawn as very appealing and don’t appear to be threatening him in any way. I like that he finds himself able to dive when it becomes necessary, even though he thought himself incapable of doing it before. This is a good lesson for everyone, since many of us are capable of way more than we give ourselves credit for.
And what did we learn? What I take away from this book is that sometimes it helps you learn a lesson when you know why it’s an important lesson to learn.