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Reviewed by Emily-Jane Hills Orford for Readers' Favorite
The Boy Who Breathed Underwater is a picture book for young readers by Izzy Rees. Do you wish you had some superpowers? Perhaps you wish you were the strongest person, or you could be invisible, or perhaps you could breathe underwater while swimming. All these wonderful superpowers and there are more. But, what if being the strongest person caused you to break everything? What if being invisible meant there was no one to play with because they couldn’t see you? What if breathing underwater made you grow gills? Or what if your superpower is just you being you? A genie grants a little boy a superpower wish every day for a week and he tries several superpowers, only to discover that each superpower created more problems than they were worth. He has a big lesson to learn.
Izzy Rees’s picture book story, The Boy Who Breathed Underwater, is a clever way to teach young people self-confidence and acceptance of who they are. Being oneself and being proud of oneself is a superpower in itself. The story is told in rhyming verse and the plot guides the reader along one little boy’s path of discovery. As each new superpower is tried, the downside of that superpower is shared. There may be a few chuckles from the reader as they relate to the little boy’s growing frustration that each superpower wasn’t worth the problems it caused. The illustrations are bright, bold, and colorful and help carry the story along. A simple story told in simple language with a lyricism that will attract young readers and aid them in their growing reading skills. A powerful message for young readers of all ages: accept who and what we are, for that is our superpower.