Clem Always Could, by Sarah Watt

Clem can do a lot of things.
Clem can make a bat and ball out of anything.
He has always loved sport.
Clem can dress himself.
He has always had style.

Clem is a small boy who loves his growing independence. There is pride in his achievements and his sense of enthusiasm is palpable. So when Clem finds something he can’t do – swim – he’s sure he’ll never be able to. Mum tries all manner of strategies to convince Clem to get into the swimming pool for his first lesson, but Clem is resolute. They spend the lesson watching the others. In the following days, Mum points out other things Clem had to learn. Clem is convinced that he was always able to drink from a cup, make faces and clean his teeth. She tells him about other things he will learn in the future. Back at the pool the next week, Clem can imagine all sorts of reasons not to get into the pool. Then his friend arrives and invites him in. Illustrations are in watercolour and pencil and include full page illustrations on white paper with ‘photos’ and multi-image spreads.

Clem Always Couldis a large format paperback picture book about the curious mix of confidence and timidity that characterises many children. Using a personal example of a mother and child experience, Sarah Watt first introduces Clem and the many skills he has acquired. Once acquired though, Clem cannot be convinced that there was a time he had to learn these things. And swimming feels like a skill he’ll never acquire when he’s too frightened to get into the water. Over the week in between swimming lessons, Mum does her best to prepare him for the learning, but it is a friend who finally – if inadvertently – helps him take the first steps into the pool. Recommended for preschool and early school-age children, particularly those with a fear of new things.

Clem Always Could...

Clem Always Could, Sarah Watt
Lothian Children’s Books 2009
ISBN: 9780734411150

This book is available online from Fishpond. Buying through this link supports Aussiereviews.

review by Claire Saxby, Children’s Author