Sakamoto’s Swim Club: How A Teacher Led An Unlikely Team To Victory by Julie Abery, illustrated by Chris Sasaki. Kids Can Press, 2021. 9781525300318
Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 5
What did you like about the book: This beautifully illustrated true story of Soichi Sakamoto and his three-year swim club combines nonfiction and simple rhyming text. It is an inspirational tale of the perseverance and determination of this Maui science teacher in the 1930s and ‘40s. Streams once rushed down the mountain slopes through irrigation ditches at the Hawaiian island’s sugar plantations. Worker children would dip and dive in the murky waters. Soichi watched the children from his classroom window. He went on to coach his ditch swimmers even though he was not a good swimmer himself. Soichi researched and applied his science knowledge to provide them with innovative training techniques. They improved their skills and worked hard every day. A community pool and park was built, the swimmers committed to train, eventually going on to the Olympics. They were proud of their heritage and were often seen wearing bright colorful shirts and straw hats. Soichi Sakamoto dedicated his life to mentoring the children of Hawaii. The back pages provide an informative author’s note and other website resources.
Anything you didn’t like about it? No
To whom would you recommend this book? This would be a wonderful read aloud. You could share it during poetry month, a coach could share it with their team, or as an introduction to how everyday people can impact the many lives that they touch.
Who should buy this book? Elementary schools, home and public libraries
Where would you shelve it ? Biography
Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? Yes
Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City and State: Julie Durmis, L.G. Nourse Elementary School, Norton, MA
Date of review: October 2, 2021