I have a wonderful twelve year old niece who is an all around great athlete. One of the sports at which she excels is swimming. Every year for her birthday and Christmas, I want very much to buy her a good book about competitive swimming, like a Matt Christopher sports book but for a girl audience. I've had very little luck. A few years ago I recommended the fantastic picture book America's Champion Swimmer about Gertrude Ederle, but I didn't give it as a gift because she was a bit old for picture books. I did give her Liz Kessler's chapter book The Tail of Emily Windsnap, but that's more a book about a seventh grade girl who goes to a swim class and finds out she's a mermaid. It's a good read, but not quite what I wanted to give her. A few months ago I found a book that would have been ideal to give my niece back when she was in first, second or third grade. It is Swimming with Sharks by Betty Hicks, one of her Gym Shorts series. It's a fun and easy to read chapter book about a girl and her friends who swim competitively. My own eight year old daughter read and enjoyed it. It got us talking about why kids choose different sports and how they deal with difficulties.
Even more recently, I finished a fantastic book which tells of a teenage boy's experiences swimming the butterfly on his summer swim team. It is warm hearted and hilarious, but not quite appropriate for my twelve year old niece. If, however, you are looking to get a high school boy a book he will enjoy, even if he's not into swimming, Don Calame's Swim the Fly is a great first choice. Fifteen year-old Matt and his best friends Sean and Coop get themselves into a number of awkward but very funny situations as they try to achieve their summer goal of seeing a real live naked girl. There is plenty of gross out humor and crude nicknames, but also a lot of loyalty, and persistence, and sweetness too. I think somebody out to hurry up and make a movie out of this before Michael Cera gets too old to play Matt.
So my quest for the perfect swimming themed book for a sixth grade girl continues. Please tell me if you know of a good one!