Get Set Swim

1:51 AM Posted by Lori Calabrese

Get Set! Swim!

Author: Jeannine Atkins
Illustrator: Hector Viveros Lee
Publisher: Lee & Low Books, April 2008
Reading Level: Ages 4-8

If you ever played sports in school, you remember that feeling of heading to another school for the first time for a meet or game. In Get Set! Swim!, Jessenia's going to a swim meet with her Mami and her brother, Luis. She can't help but feel a little nervous and along the way, Mami tells stories about her homeland, Puerto Rico. (Which reminded me how much I need summer to arrive by the way!) Jessenia wonders how her team could compete against the lucky girls who lived in these houses. As the race begins, Atkins has you feeling as though you're pool-side and the thundering dives will get you wet. When it's Jessenia's turn to race, she loses her concentration and doesn't win first place. However, she has another shot and even when it becomes clear that her team is going to lose the meet, she cheers even louder and hugs her friends harder. In her second race, she speeds ahead faster- not only for herself and her team, but for Mami, too. Jessenia swims with all the strength of her mother's dreams for her and wins. Even though her team ultimately loses the meet, Jessenia's confidence grows and she knows her team will win another time.

I always love to see stories involving girls in team sports, and the theme of winning and losing, self-esteem, identity, and accomplishment. The closeness of friends and family is central to Atkins' story and what's most important is the confidence that Jessenia shows in the end after losing. The artwork does an excellent job of conveying all the emotions that go along with the thrill of competition. "We'll be back," Jessenia says.

Be sure to check out the Teacher's Guide for Get Set! Swim!.
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