Swim Team by Johnnie Christmas

Published by HarperAlley

Summary:  Bree’s nervous about her big move with her dad from New York to Florida, but things seem to be going well until she finds out that her sixth-grade elective is Swim 101.  Surrounded by kids who have grown up around pools and the ocean, Bree is embarrassed that she doesn’t know how to swim.  All that changes one day when she accidentally falls into her apartment complex’s pool and is rescued by her neighbor, Miss Etta.  It turns out that Etta was a swimming champion, and she takes Bree under her wing and, step by step, teaches her how to swim.  To raise her Swim 101 grade, Bree agrees to try out for the swim team and to everyone’s surprise–including her own–she’s a natural.  The girls on the team have their ups and downs as they prepare for the big state championship.  When Etta sees their struggles, she decides to reunite with her old swim team, including one woman with whom she hasn’t spoken for decades.  The older women coach the girls to a nail-biting but ultimately entirely satisfying state championship win.  256 pages; grades 3-7.

Pros:  Fans of Raina Telgemeier and Jerry Craft will definitely want to dive into this graphic novel.  The excellent art (I especially love the swimming scenes) and compelling story will have them clamoring for a sequel.  The difficult history Black people in America have had with swimming and racism is seamlessly woven into the present-day narrative.

Cons:  Bree’s journey from non-swimmer to champion seemed a bit unrealistically short.

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