by Sarah Watt
Lothian Children’s Books. Australian, Picture, Young Reader. Paperback rrp $16.99
Clem’s mum gently reminds him of all the wonderful things that he can do and how he had to learn them. But Clem disagrees.
Clem shook his head. ‘I always could.’
Sarah Watt’s brilliant watercolour illustrations are simple but striking. They cleverly show the changes in Clem’s view of the world. In the beginning the pool is spread over two pages - big, scary and dark with evil lurking at the bottom. The swimmers are only small, lost in the enormous expanse of water. But as Clem grows braver, Watt’s images reflect Clem’s new outlook. The pool shrinks until it is an oasis of pale blue and white, perfectly in proportion with the children splashing about there.
Clem Always Could is a wonderfully illustrated book following a young child’s personal growth as he builds the confidence to overcome his fears. When the swimming class jumped in I had to blink and rub my glasses because I thought I saw the water smudging them!