Review: Swim Team
By Johnnie Christmas
May 2022, HarperCollins Publishers
Last year, Swim Team came to my collection through my library’s subscription to Junior Library Guild. The book looked so inviting with its bright cover and I knew it would be a magnet for my students who loved “middle-grade graphic novels” like New Kid, Smile, and the Sunny series. I loved the book instantly and was surprised I never sat down to write a review (admittedly I found a started document…. I have a lot of those).
It’s never too late to write a review. And perhaps this could shed light on why this debut title both garnered a Coretta Scott King Award and was a National Book Award Finalist.
It’s just Bree and her Dad. When her father has the opportunity for an IT training program in Florida and a job, he moves his family to Florida from NYC. Bree is apprehensive but has a positive attitude. She is even excited to start middle school but appalled when her only choice of an elective is beginner swim. Not only does Bree not like to swim she is afraid of the water. Luckily her new neighbor Ms. Etta jumps in and saves the day by teaching Bree to swim.
But Bree is now challenged to join the school’s failing swim team. The team has almost everything working against them, especially compared to their rival Holyoke Prep, a prestigious private school. But with perseverance will Bree and her friends overcome?
The fast-paced story incorporates themes like friendship and perseverance, typical to the middle-grade “genre.” More serious themes like racism are also explored. Yet the book is sprinkled with humor, alleviating the more serious moments in the book. The bright artwork with vivid sunny colors and fine details in each panel, brings the story to life.
Make sure to talk up this title—if it even needs it after students take a look at the cover.
Filed under: Graphic Novels, Reviews
About Esther Keller
Esther Keller is the librarian at JHS 278, Marine Park in Brooklyn, NY. There she started the library's first graphic novel collection and strongly advocated for using comics in the classroom. She also curates the Graphic Novel collection for the NYC DOE Citywide Digital Library. She started her career at the Brooklyn Public Library and later jumped ship to the school system so she could have summer vacation and a job that would align with a growing family's schedule. On the side, she is a mother of 4 and regularly reviews for SLJ and School Library Connection (formerly LMC). In her past life, she served on the Great Graphic Novels for Teens Committee where she solidified her love and dedication to comics.
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