Otherwise known as Sheila the Great ISBN: 9780330260510
Published by Piccolo
Sheila is afraid of dogs and swimming and thunderstorms, but she will not admit it. She will walk up ten flights of steps to avoid being in a lift with a dog, and she will lie through her teeth to avoid going swimming. Her family understand her problem and generally let her get by with sidestepping the things that scare her, but when they are given the loan of a house in upstate New York for the summer, they insist she must take swimming lessons. Her new friend, Mouse, soon twigs to Sheila's fears and tells her straight out that admitting to being afraid is half the battle. Sheila scoffs at this and still insists she isn't afraid of anything, even though she spends most of the summer avoiding the small dog that comes with the house. There are lots of adventures, during which Sheila must face up to some of her fears, and twice she is shown having a real panic attack. Her swimming teacher, Marty, helps her finally to admit her fear of putting her face in the water, and she begins to overcome that problem. The approach is light-hearted and funny, but we aren't given easy answers. She learns to swim - vaguely - and has begun to accept the possibility of the family's getting a puppy, but Sheila is always, one feels, going to be a person who needs support and understanding.