A review by Nalini Haynes
On the surface Echidna Jim Went For A Swim is a cute picture book for little children about an echidna and his friends going to the beach for a day. It’s a bit short: I prefer picture books with a bit more substance. Even three year olds have longer attention spans than this!
What troubles me is below the surface, creating a barrier to reviewing an Australian book with cute images of Australian animals. I read this book some time ago and struggled with how to review it.
Echidna Jim brings nothing to the day except trouble and pain: his bristles poke holes in people, in floatie toys and in the bus tyre. He does nothing to show he cares about others, he sits alone at the back of the bus and he’s last in the water, his arrival signalling the end of everyone else’s fun.
I have to say that I found this book depressing and I’m concerned that children who are exposed to this type of literature will grow up to be Covington Catholics and Reclaim Australia white supremacist ableist and disablist idiots.
Laura Wood is a talented illustrator who has worked on many other books. If you’re interested in her work, perhaps try her other books listed here.
I recommend avoiding this book. If it’s too late, then I suggest encouraging discussions about how sad and lonely Echidna Jim must be, with everyone else being friends while isolating him. I’d also encourage discussions about how Echidna Jim could help others, be more careful and more empathic.
I seem to be alone in my concerns about Echidna Jim: other reviews include Aussie Reviews, the Little Big Book Club, and Goodreads; it’s interesting to note that Goodreads has given Echidna Jim 2.5 stars although the only written reviews seem positive.