• Michelle Nott

An Inspiring Picture Book Biography for Children and Adults

Sakamoto's Swim Club: How a Teacher Led an Unlikely Team to Victory written by Julie Abery and illustrated by Chris Sasaki, published by Kids Can Press.


Known for her spare, beautiful, and engaging language, Julie Abery introduces us to a little-known story about a science teacher who unexpectedly becomes a swim coach for children swimming in a nearby irrigation ditch.


Readers will drift along in perfect meter and rhyme alongside Sakamoto's young swimmers, and on their journey from the island of Maui to international fame and to the Olympic Games! Further reading and detail into the the lives of Sakamoto and his swim team are included in the back matter.


This rich story about courage, pride, and overcoming challenges (from police officers to World War II), will captivate the youngest and oldest readers. In addition, the art of Chris Sasaki invites his audience into every scene with his colorful and vibrant landscapes.


Imagine It!


Similar to the cover, there's another image in the book where Sakamoto is knelt close to his swimmers. But there's another man standing next to him. The text reads:


He makes the case

for kids to train,

using ditch as

swimming lane.

Consider the line, "He makes the case." That's another way of saying he had to come up with really good reasons.


Now, imagine what Sakamoto might have said. Do you suppose that the other man argued? What could Sakamoto have replied to convince him?




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