I enjoy children’s books, I guess I am a child at heart. I actually think that the genre is much misunderstood. A children’s book is not a simple project, the author has many variables to contend with, not least of which is balancing the entertainment value that the child perceives with the educational value that the parent is seeking.

Albert Einstein may have invented the equation E=MC2 to explain the universe, but I believe it can also be used when discussing education. My rendition of this famous equation is:

Education = the Mind of a child being Creatively Challenged.

Gary Lamit has done an admirable job with Wally The Walking Fish. Being an educator by trade he understands the subtlety and challenges of creating a book for the pre-reader.

The text is large, well spaced and in an easy to read font, ideal for little fingers to follow along. The book itself is of robust construction, another must for a pre-reader.

I could see no credit given to an illustrator, so I must assume that Gary also wears that hat. The pictures themselves are very interesting, and not the usual fare served up for this age group. He has opted for a pastel pallet rather than the more normal bright pallet. The illustrations are simple enough for young eyes to understand, yet rich enough in detail to make them  a teaching aid.

The story is simple and effective, a young lady, Madison and her good friend Cooper, an inquisitive Golden Labrador meet a fish that can not only walk, but talk as well! The three set off to visit Betty the Beaver. There are discussions about walking fish, flying fish, and even mushrooms. Gary uses simple language and simple concepts throughout the book. Short text exchanges between the characters on the left page, and an illustration on the right page.

One aspect of Wally The Walking Fish that I thought was very useful is that when appropriate, Gary has included a ‘fact box’ to accompany the story. A parent can use this information to help explain the concepts.  I think this is a great idea, often when reading to a child people miss the opportunity to engage the child in conversation, these ‘fact boxes’  are a wonderful way to trigger the process.

I read the dedication page with some interest, it turns out that Cooper is Gary’s pet lab, and Madison his grand daughter. What a splendid gift for the little girl. I will bet that for the rest of her life this book will have a special place on her book shelf.

I do hope that we will be seeing more in the Wally The Walking Fish series as I think that Gary has a very real talent in the children’s genre.

You can order your copy of Wally The Walking Fish from Amazon, Gary Lamit also has an interesting Web Page that is well worth a visit.

Simon Barrett

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