Swim Team by Johnnie Christmas

The moment I saw the cover of this book, I knew I wanted to read it… but it took it making it to the Cybils graphic novel finalist list for me to get around to reading it myself. I was also thrilled when it won a Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor.

Cover of Swim Team by Johnnie Christmas

Swim Team
by Johnnie Christmas

HarperAlley, 2022

ISBN 978-0063056763

Read from a copy gifted to my daughter. 

Ebook available through Libby. 

Bree is torn between excitement and nerves as she and her dad move from Brooklyn to Florida and she has to start a new school.  It’s a big change in more ways than one – not only does she have to make new friends, but her dad’s new job means he’s hardly ever home.  That leaves Bree time to get to know her neighbors better – Ms. Etta, the upstairs neighbor, who helps out when her dad is gone, and Clara, who’s in her grade at school.  Bree’s nerves take the lead, though, when it turns out that the only elective with space still left is swim. Not only can she not swim – she’s terrified to try.  But she also can’t live with a bad grade, and the only way to improve it is to join the swim team.  It turns out that both Clara and Ms. Etta know a lot about swimming.  With Ms. Etta’s help, Bree gains confidence in her swimming – and the team as a whole grows enough that they might even have a chance to take on the team from the snooty private school that’s been on a winning streak.  

My daughter loved this enough to nominate it for the Cybils herself, and was so excited that it made it to the finalists!  That pushed me to read it myself, and it is well worth it!  The art fits in well with the standard memoir-style art kids are used to, with slightly exaggerated body language conveying emotions perfectly.  While there’s lots of good middle school dynamics along the lines of these books, Bree and the reader also learn a lot from Ms. Etta about how it was that Black people in America lost their ability to swim and love of swimming due to segregated pools.  Bree and her team’s victory is reclaiming their right to the water.  There were many other things to love – Clara accepting Bree as a friend even before she got good at swimming; Ms. Etta showing that kind coaching can be even more effective than the harsh coaching the private school coach used, and the revived friendship between Ms. Etta and her own high school swim team.  This is one my daughter re-reads regularly and I’ll be recommending to readers.

About Katy K.

I'm a librarian and book worm who believes that children and adults deserve great books to read.
This entry was posted in Books, Graphic Novel, Middle Grade, Realistic, Reviews and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Swim Team by Johnnie Christmas

  1. Pingback: 3 More 2022 Cybils MG Graphic Novel Finalists | alibrarymama

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