From School Library Journal
PreSchool-Grade 2–Spot and Whistle are evenly matched when it comes to jumping high, fetching sticks, and racing one another. However, when it comes to swimming across the pond, Whistle always wins. Spot's feet always touch the bottom; he only pretends to be swimming. His inability to swim causes him much embarrassment, and he hopes that no one will take note. The text is full of repetition and simple, direct language, making for a clearly told story. The curly haired dogs, goldfish, and mallard ducks are rendered in vivid watercolors and a somewhat primitive style. The pond is shown in cross section so that readers can see what Spot's feet are doing. The antics of the ducks are an additional visual comedic element as they land on the heads of the dogs and flap away from splashes. Children who worry about their own abilities will empathize with Spot and be pleased when he finally triumphs.–Kathleen Meulen, Blakely Elementary School, Bainbridge Island, WA
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This simply told story focuses on learning a difficult new task and on related fears and phobias. The two characters are a gray dog named Whistle and his best pal, Spot, a white dog with one large spot on his back. They are evenly matched when they run, jump or fetch sticks, but Spot always wins when they have a swimming race in a pond. That's because Spot keeps his back legs on the bottom and because he turns around and pretends to have finished a complete lap when he has barely left the pond's edge. Spot eventually learns to swim when he relaxes and forgets his fear of swimming, so he no longer has to cover up his lack of skill in the water. Reiser's bold watercolor illustrations utilize simple shapes, bright colors and a pair of cheerful ducks who follow the canine pair as they cavort through their series of competitive play situations. The issues explored here are subtle but important: The naturally varying results of competition, the fear of failure and the importance of following the rules of fair play in order to claim a meaningful victory. (Picture book. 4-6) (Kirkus Reviews)