by Pat Lowery Collins, illustrated by Marylin Hafner, c1994.
I picked this title off the shelf because it reminded me of my swim coach yelling over and over again “don’t splash the minnows!” The local pool where we took our swimming lessons was quite cramped in those days so the older kids or “sharks” would have the lane right next to the beginner “minnows”. Some splashing of the minnows was unavoidable, excessive splashing of the minnows would get you yanked from the lesson.
Excessive splashing of the minnows only happened when covert racing was going on. Even though they kept the rather aggressive naming scheme that allowed for “sharks”, by the 90’s these swim lessons were meant only to teach kids how to swim safely and for survival purposes. If you got yanked and had to sit on the cold ledge of the pool with no towel at 6am it wasn’t because you were splashing beginner swimmers it was because you were racing.
Sharks are incredibly smart creatures, they adapt. And so after spending too many mornings shivering on the side of the pool we sharks started holding our races after the pool opened for general admission.
Two brothers are visiting the aquarium.
Tim = younger brother so I automatically like him better.
Jon= older brother who tells the aquarium attendant “he can’t read” pointing to Tim. Lock it up Jon.
Throughout their trip Tim points to each sign making up what the words say. Every time Jon corrects him we find out that Tim got the gist of the sign right…he just used better more creative phrasing.
My favorite is the sign that says “Giant Sea Turtle 400 lbs”.
Which Tim reads as “Don’t Feed That Fat Turtle. His Shell Will Bust”.
Tim becomes the latest in a long storied history of more imaginative younger siblings who end up lost after wandering away from those bossy first borns. This tends to happen while said older child is reciting useless facts they know (that you don’t know) simply because they’ve reached 4th grade already, as if that’s hard to do!
In the end the boys are reunited and Tim surprises both Jon and the reader with the last sign he “reads”.
I feel like Pete and Pete would really get the brother dynamic in this book. Also, Pete and Pete often seemed to be under a startling lack of adult supervision just like Jon and Tim. Twas a different time.