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Sakamoto's Swim Club: How a Teacher Led an Unlikely Team to Victory

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The inspirational and little-known story of a dedicated teacher who coached Hawaiian swimmers all the way to the Olympics, beautifully told in simple rhyme. When the children of workers on a 1930s Maui sugar plantation were chased away from playing in the nearby irrigation ditches, local science teacher Soichi Sakamoto had an idea. He offered to take responsibility for the The inspirational and little-known story of a dedicated teacher who coached Hawaiian swimmers all the way to the Olympics, beautifully told in simple rhyme. When the children of workers on a 1930s Maui sugar plantation were chased away from playing in the nearby irrigation ditches, local science teacher Soichi Sakamoto had an idea. He offered to take responsibility for the children --- and then he began training them how to swim. Using his science background, Sakamoto devised his own innovative coaching techniques: he developed a strict practice regime for the kids, building their strength and endurance by using the ditch water's natural current. The children worked hard under the dedicated Sakamoto's guidance, and their skills improved. They formed a swim club and began to dominate in swimming events around the world. And then one day, the proud Sakamoto saw an impossible dream come true --- Olympic gold! In a unique approach that makes for a moving read-aloud, Julie Abery uses limited rhyming text to tell the little-known story of Coach Sakamoto and the Three-Year Swim Club. The stunning art of award-winning and highly acclaimed Chris Sasaki perfectly complements the lyrical storytelling. This inspiring picture book offers excellent lessons in perseverance, believing in yourself and not letting others define you, while wonderfully capturing how one person can make a huge difference in the lives of others. In highlighting the team's “bright and loud” presence at events, with their Hawaiian dress and ukulele, it also encourages children to take pride in their heritage and view it as a strength. An author's note with photos and more information tell the fuller story of Soichi Sakamoto and his Three-Year Swim Club.


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The inspirational and little-known story of a dedicated teacher who coached Hawaiian swimmers all the way to the Olympics, beautifully told in simple rhyme. When the children of workers on a 1930s Maui sugar plantation were chased away from playing in the nearby irrigation ditches, local science teacher Soichi Sakamoto had an idea. He offered to take responsibility for the The inspirational and little-known story of a dedicated teacher who coached Hawaiian swimmers all the way to the Olympics, beautifully told in simple rhyme. When the children of workers on a 1930s Maui sugar plantation were chased away from playing in the nearby irrigation ditches, local science teacher Soichi Sakamoto had an idea. He offered to take responsibility for the children --- and then he began training them how to swim. Using his science background, Sakamoto devised his own innovative coaching techniques: he developed a strict practice regime for the kids, building their strength and endurance by using the ditch water's natural current. The children worked hard under the dedicated Sakamoto's guidance, and their skills improved. They formed a swim club and began to dominate in swimming events around the world. And then one day, the proud Sakamoto saw an impossible dream come true --- Olympic gold! In a unique approach that makes for a moving read-aloud, Julie Abery uses limited rhyming text to tell the little-known story of Coach Sakamoto and the Three-Year Swim Club. The stunning art of award-winning and highly acclaimed Chris Sasaki perfectly complements the lyrical storytelling. This inspiring picture book offers excellent lessons in perseverance, believing in yourself and not letting others define you, while wonderfully capturing how one person can make a huge difference in the lives of others. In highlighting the team's “bright and loud” presence at events, with their Hawaiian dress and ukulele, it also encourages children to take pride in their heritage and view it as a strength. An author's note with photos and more information tell the fuller story of Soichi Sakamoto and his Three-Year Swim Club.

30 review for Sakamoto's Swim Club: How a Teacher Led an Unlikely Team to Victory

  1. 4 out of 5

    Briar's Reviews

    Non-fiction. Swim club. Picture Book. Did they write this book for me?! Because it's sounding like it's perfectly up my alleyway. Little known fact in the book world, I used to be a highly competitive swimmer. It was most of my life and then I eventually retired due to extreme bullying in the sport from coaches and fellow swimmers. I still have a love for swimming though and have kept active in that community. I LOVE hearing stories about swim teams and swimming, because it's a big part of my lif Non-fiction. Swim club. Picture Book. Did they write this book for me?! Because it's sounding like it's perfectly up my alleyway. Little known fact in the book world, I used to be a highly competitive swimmer. It was most of my life and then I eventually retired due to extreme bullying in the sport from coaches and fellow swimmers. I still have a love for swimming though and have kept active in that community. I LOVE hearing stories about swim teams and swimming, because it's a big part of my life. So, naturally, this book is perfect for me. I had already read a book on The Three Year Swim Club (large, non-fiction, chapter book) so I had some background for this story. Seeing a picture book version made me so happy! The picture book is an incredible way to tell this story, and it's one of the best mediums. There's also a rhyming scheme to make it feel kind of sing-songy. I truly think this is a mesmerizing must read for non-fiction fans wanting to learn a story they probably hadn't heard before. Plus the illustrations are just perfect. I love the colours and style! It vibes well with this story. Not gonna lie, I really want a physical copy of this to put it on my shelf and eventually read to my (future) children and family's children. Five out of five stars. Thank you to NetGalley and Kids Can Press for providing me a free copy of this book in exchange of an honest review.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Reading_ Tamishly

    Such an impactful true story retold! I love, love, love the illustrations! It's so unique and I love the details in the art. I love how this storybook tells the story of the almost forgotten important landmark in history regarding how a man changed the fate of kids to become Olympians and achieve their goals in the swimming sport. Conditions in which the kids trained weren't the traditional ones where everyone else who would compete in such sports would have but this man made things possible throug Such an impactful true story retold! I love, love, love the illustrations! It's so unique and I love the details in the art. I love how this storybook tells the story of the almost forgotten important landmark in history regarding how a man changed the fate of kids to become Olympians and achieve their goals in the swimming sport. Conditions in which the kids trained weren't the traditional ones where everyone else who would compete in such sports would have but this man made things possible through utter grit and discipline. I appreciate how the story telling in the actual content consists of less words and how the summary of the history is included towards the end of the book alongwith real pictures. Love this book! Thank you, authors and the publisher for the advance reading copy.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Laura

    This is an amazing story behind this picture book, and I was glad when the background was given in the back of the book about how Soichi Sakamoto, who was not as swimmer coached the local Hawaiian children to learn to swim so well that several made it into the olympics and one received a gold medal for his swimming. The pictures are great. The story is very sparsely told in verse, but it still works. Amazing what one can do with a good coach. Amazing that what started as children swimming in the di This is an amazing story behind this picture book, and I was glad when the background was given in the back of the book about how Soichi Sakamoto, who was not as swimmer coached the local Hawaiian children to learn to swim so well that several made it into the olympics and one received a gold medal for his swimming. The pictures are great. The story is very sparsely told in verse, but it still works. Amazing what one can do with a good coach. Amazing that what started as children swimming in the ditches of the sugar plantation went on to a swimming pool and then the Olympics. Thanks to Edelweiss for making this book available for an honest review.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Jeanie

    Sakamato's belief in the vulnerable children of Maui is inspirational and it is a story of hope. The illustrations tell the story in a vivid way. I appreciated the actual photo at the end of the team and Mr. Sakamoto. A great book to add to any library. A special thank you to Kids Can Press and Netgalley for the ARC and the opportunity to post an honest review. Sakamato's belief in the vulnerable children of Maui is inspirational and it is a story of hope. The illustrations tell the story in a vivid way. I appreciated the actual photo at the end of the team and Mr. Sakamoto. A great book to add to any library. A special thank you to Kids Can Press and Netgalley for the ARC and the opportunity to post an honest review.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Ben Truong

    Sakamoto's Swim Club: How a Teacher Led an Unlikely Team to Victory is a children's picture book written by Julie Abery and illustrated by Chris Sasaki. It centers on a science teacher trains kids who are playing in irrigation ditches how to swim, eventually leading them to the Olympics. Soichi Sakamoto was an American swimming coach who pioneered training methods that have now become standard throughout the sport. Many of his students went on to have great success nationally and internationally. Sakamoto's Swim Club: How a Teacher Led an Unlikely Team to Victory is a children's picture book written by Julie Abery and illustrated by Chris Sasaki. It centers on a science teacher trains kids who are playing in irrigation ditches how to swim, eventually leading them to the Olympics. Soichi Sakamoto was an American swimming coach who pioneered training methods that have now become standard throughout the sport. Many of his students went on to have great success nationally and internationally. He was inducted into the International Swimming, Hawaii Sports and American Swimming Coaches Association Halls of Fame, and is a member of the University of Hawaii Sports Circle of Honor. Abery's text is rather simplistic, straightforward, informative, and lyrical. Told in clipped, rhyming verse, this is a quick, simplified account of a lesser-known inspirational story in sports history. Backmatter includes an author's note, additional facts, and a bibliography. Sasaki illustrations are full of bright colors, befitting the beautiful landscape. The premise of the book is rather straightforward. In the 1930s, on the Hawaiian island of Maui, migrant workers cut sugar cane, leaving their kids to their own devices. In the hot sun, the kids swim and dive in the irrigation ditches that run through the fields, but the police yell at them and chase them out. When science teacher Soichi Sakamoto sees this, he decides to help the kids, and convinces the authorities to let the kids use the ditch, which he trains them to treat like a swimming lane. Sakamoto creates a daily program for them to follow, making his students swim upstream to make them stronger and over time heads to the Olympics. All in all, Sakamoto's Swim Club: How a Teacher Led an Unlikely Team to Victory is a wonderful book that exudes inspiration, dedication, and perseverance.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Kathryn

    The story of Sakamoto's Swim Club is amazing and I'm so glad that this picture book exists to share the story with young children. I'd never heard of Sakamoto and the Three-Year Swim Club before, and neither had my aunt (who visits Maui every year, and has taken a daily swim for almost forty of her 68 years) and we both agreed it is wonderful. To be honest, I expected the reading experience to be a bit more moving, but the illustrations and text just didn't resonate with my quite enough for me to The story of Sakamoto's Swim Club is amazing and I'm so glad that this picture book exists to share the story with young children. I'd never heard of Sakamoto and the Three-Year Swim Club before, and neither had my aunt (who visits Maui every year, and has taken a daily swim for almost forty of her 68 years) and we both agreed it is wonderful. To be honest, I expected the reading experience to be a bit more moving, but the illustrations and text just didn't resonate with my quite enough for me to award this five stars. This is personal taste. It's well done, providing enough information for young readers while the Author's Note and Resources offer more for older audiences. Highly recommended to anyone who enjoys stories of underdogs in sports and teachers who make a huge difference in the lives of children who need a champion.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Sophia Gholz

    A hugely inspiring and beautifully told story. Abery’s simple, yet powerful text carries readers away as we’re swept into Sakamoto’s journey from local science teacher to Olympic swim coach. This is a story of hope and persistence. Most of all, however, this is a story about caring. Sakamoto was a person who just wanted to help others, which eventually led to a lifelong dream come true. This book will make a fantastic addition to every bookshelf and library. Don’t miss the wonderful author’s not A hugely inspiring and beautifully told story. Abery’s simple, yet powerful text carries readers away as we’re swept into Sakamoto’s journey from local science teacher to Olympic swim coach. This is a story of hope and persistence. Most of all, however, this is a story about caring. Sakamoto was a person who just wanted to help others, which eventually led to a lifelong dream come true. This book will make a fantastic addition to every bookshelf and library. Don’t miss the wonderful author’s note featuring more information in the back!

  8. 5 out of 5

    Laura Blankenship

    I had higher expectations for this book. The story sounded so interesting, but I found the execution to be lacking. I think the poetic style really held back the story-telling. I wanted more details, but the author limited themselves by only using verse to explain what happened. I just wanted more.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Mutually Inclusive

    Y'all know I love a picture book biography, and I have to tell you that Sakamoto’s Swim Club by Julie Abery might be one of my new favorites. With simple rhyming text, this book tells the little-known story of Soichi Sakamoto, a science teacher who dedicated his life to coaching hundreds of Hawaiian children on the Three-Year Swim Club. Sakamoto’s Swim Club starts out simply enough. We see a sugar plantation and children swimming in an irrigation ditch, along with a police officer who chases them Y'all know I love a picture book biography, and I have to tell you that Sakamoto’s Swim Club by Julie Abery might be one of my new favorites. With simple rhyming text, this book tells the little-known story of Soichi Sakamoto, a science teacher who dedicated his life to coaching hundreds of Hawaiian children on the Three-Year Swim Club. Sakamoto’s Swim Club starts out simply enough. We see a sugar plantation and children swimming in an irrigation ditch, along with a police officer who chases them away as a teacher looks on from his classroom. I was hooked! As the story unfolds, we follow Soichi Sakamoto’s journey to becoming a swimming coach. After coming to an agreement with Hawaiian Commercial and Sugar Company, Sakamoto began training children to swim in the plantation’s irrigation ditch. Though he was not a powerful swimmer himself, he used his background in science to develop training techniques. After Hawaiian Commercial and Sugar Company built a community swimming pool, Sakamoto and his team began training daily to reach their dream of competing in the 1940 Olympics. Unfortunately, World War II kept the Three- Year Swim Club from reaching this goal, but in 1948, one of Sakamoto’s students, Bill Smith, took home the gold for the 400-meter freestyle race. Sakamoto’s Swim Club is a wonderful story of determination and persistence, encouraging children to work hard for their dreams and never give up. Chris Sasaki’s illustrations are absolute perfection. I love the vibrancy of the colors and the way they capture the beauty of Maui, but I really appreciate the way they pair perfectly with the sparse text. Sasaki’s experience in animation really shows in the way he tells a story through his illustrations. This is such a unique picture book biography because it is told in simple verse, making for a great read-aloud. The back matter contains a wonderful author’s note detailing the specifics of the Three-Year Swim Club’s journey to the gold. Julie Abery is a children’s book author and former illustrator based in Lausanne, Switzerland. To learn more about her and her work, please visit her website at littleredstoryshed.wordpress.com. Chris Sasaki is an illustrator, animation art director, and writer based in Oakland, California. Please visit his website at csasaki.com to learn more about him and his work. Many thanks to Kids Can Press for providing me with a review copy of Sakamoto’s Swim Club. I can’t wait to share this one with my little swimmer. Blog | Instagram | Facebook | Goodreads | Storygraph

  10. 5 out of 5

    Tonja Drecker

    With few, poetic words and lovely illustrations, this book reveals a little known tale from history in a way that will inspire even younger listeners. While the plantation workers in Hawaii work hard under the sun, their children swim in the irrigation ditches. At least, until the officers come and chase them away. A science teacher, Sakamoto, steps in and makes a deal, where he watches the kids, and they're allowed to swim in the ditches. When the corporation builds a pool, Sakamoto's dreams mou With few, poetic words and lovely illustrations, this book reveals a little known tale from history in a way that will inspire even younger listeners. While the plantation workers in Hawaii work hard under the sun, their children swim in the irrigation ditches. At least, until the officers come and chase them away. A science teacher, Sakamoto, steps in and makes a deal, where he watches the kids, and they're allowed to swim in the ditches. When the corporation builds a pool, Sakamoto's dreams mount with the founding of a club with his swimmers. And from there, they chase an Olympic dream. Often times, picture books based on historic events can be a bit on the heavy side...when it comes to text and information. This book is not. I was very surprised to find that the author manages to build the scenes, create the story, and draw listeners in by using a poetic and very short text. Instead, the illustrations flow right along with the general story to allow the culture, situations, and emotions to come across. And it's just what this age group needs and will understand. Then, for those who do want to dive deeper into the historical events, there's a longer summary at the end. In other words, it's a wonderful dive into history, offers insight into another culture, inspires listeners to reach for their own dreams, and is enjoyable to read/listen to as well. I received an ARC and found this to be such a wonderful read!

  11. 4 out of 5

    JaNay Brown-Wood

    Simple text tells an inspirational story of Hawaiian children who train to become Olympic gold-winning swimmers. What an important story to tell, especially since many may be unaware of Sakamoto and his swimmers--this story was new to me and I'm so glad I learned about it from this book. Hearing this inspiring tale of children from Pacific Islander backgrounds becoming award-winning swimmers is certainly one I plan to share with my daughter, and that children everywhere should hear about. Additi Simple text tells an inspirational story of Hawaiian children who train to become Olympic gold-winning swimmers. What an important story to tell, especially since many may be unaware of Sakamoto and his swimmers--this story was new to me and I'm so glad I learned about it from this book. Hearing this inspiring tale of children from Pacific Islander backgrounds becoming award-winning swimmers is certainly one I plan to share with my daughter, and that children everywhere should hear about. Additionally, Sasaki's art is beautiful and I always enjoy seeing positive and authentic representations of children from diverse backgrounds being captured in picture books! Lastly, I appreciated the author's note, too, which gave more detail about Sakamoto and his team. Though the scansion and the rhyme was a bit inconsistent, this enjoyable story deserves to be shared!

  12. 4 out of 5

    Karla Valenti

    This is such an inspiring story of perseverance! The artwork is vibrant and engaging, a perfect companion to the precise rhymes Julie uses to tell the story of Sakamoto and his team of swimmers. Readers may not have heard of this team and their journey to the Olympics, but they will see themselves in the characters of this story and recognize the challenges (and rewards) of pursuing a dream to the end.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Julie Rowan-Zoch

    Beautifully written and sparse, the story of Coach Sakamoto’s dream conveys readers through striking compositions with readiness and grace, just as his Hawaiian team swims to Olympic victory. A many-layered telling of perseverance and dedication that leaves space for discussion and a new source for cultural pride. Sure to spark much interest in this forgotten true story in children as well as adults.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Amanda Sanders

    A true and wonderful story told in rhyme. The rhyme was a nice touch and well done. While the coach was wiping a tear at the end--so was I. There is a section at the end that tells the story of Coach Sakamoto and his swim club making it to the Olympics in more detail. There is a list of resources at the end so readers can check out the resources the author used. I believe a lot of these will get a look.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Emilee (emileereadsbooks)

    Thank you to Netgalley and Kids Can Press for a free digital copy for my review. This is the movie Cool Runnings but about a Hawaiian swim team and in a picture book! With abstract illustrations and a rhyming cadence this book tells the story of a swim club whose knowledge was almost lost to history. This book is fantastic but I want an adult historical fiction novel STAT on this topic as well.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Fiona Halliday

    "Sakamoto's Swim Club" is another non-fiction classic from Julie Abery in her signature pared-down lyrical rhyme. It tells of a group of children (the sons and daughters of migrant cane workers) splashing in the muddy, warm ditches of Maui's sugar plantations in the 1930s, who rise to become Olympic swimmers under the tutelage of Soichi Sakamoto, who himself didn't know much about swimming until he decided to coach them. It is quite remarkable for its themes of perseverance and resilience, tempe "Sakamoto's Swim Club" is another non-fiction classic from Julie Abery in her signature pared-down lyrical rhyme. It tells of a group of children (the sons and daughters of migrant cane workers) splashing in the muddy, warm ditches of Maui's sugar plantations in the 1930s, who rise to become Olympic swimmers under the tutelage of Soichi Sakamoto, who himself didn't know much about swimming until he decided to coach them. It is quite remarkable for its themes of perseverance and resilience, tempered by loving guidance, and Abery tells the story with her usual impressive economy of phrase. Given that we all seem to splash around in our metaphorical muddy pools, dreaming of Olympic swim lanes and golds, "Sakamoto's Swim Club" is a story for the dreamer in us all, perfect for classrooms and libraries alike. The backmatter provides a more detailed version of the story. Chris Sasaki's kalediscopic illustrations, a charming and heady mix of photojournalism meets Pixar, add sweeping energy and charm to the story, spanning as it does, a war and decades. The bright swathes of radiant green and turquoise soak the page with sunshine and love, and add a note of humour. The squirming, dashing children are, in one spot, only present by a heap of clothes presided over by a chicken. It was an absolute delight to read, and as a read aloud would be just perfect.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Tatiana

    I love little-known true stories. In Sakamoto's Swim Club: How a Teacher Led an Unlikely Team to Victory, a science teacher in Hawaii saw a problem (kids getting in trouble playing in irrigation ditches) and solved it by creating a swim team that, by 1944, competed at the Olympics. Sakamoto himself could not swim(!), yet that didn't stop him from learning the strokes and training techniques to become an excellent instructor. If all that wasn't enough, the illustrations were evocative of the isla I love little-known true stories. In Sakamoto's Swim Club: How a Teacher Led an Unlikely Team to Victory, a science teacher in Hawaii saw a problem (kids getting in trouble playing in irrigation ditches) and solved it by creating a swim team that, by 1944, competed at the Olympics. Sakamoto himself could not swim(!), yet that didn't stop him from learning the strokes and training techniques to become an excellent instructor. If all that wasn't enough, the illustrations were evocative of the island setting and the narrative rhyming and spare to hold younger readers' attention. Highly rec'd!

  18. 5 out of 5

    Stef Wade

    If you're looking for a perfect picture book in time for the Olympics, look no further! Sakamoto's Swim Club non-fiction poetry perfection! Paired with Sasaki's dynamic illustrations, Abery masterfully tells the story of this unlikely swim team training in sugar plantain ditches to later become Olympic champions. In short, concise verse, every detail of this story urges you to turn the page. If you love a good Olympic underdog story like I do, this one's for you. If you're looking for a perfect picture book in time for the Olympics, look no further! Sakamoto's Swim Club non-fiction poetry perfection! Paired with Sasaki's dynamic illustrations, Abery masterfully tells the story of this unlikely swim team training in sugar plantain ditches to later become Olympic champions. In short, concise verse, every detail of this story urges you to turn the page. If you love a good Olympic underdog story like I do, this one's for you.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Jami Gigot

    I loved this book. An interesting, wonderful and true story of a coach inspiring kids to be the best they can be despite obstacles along the way. It is told in perfectly written rhyme and the illustrations are so expressive and a great match. The backstory at the end of the book offers great insight to this heartwarming story.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Ryan

    I love it when a picture book teaches me about someone new. This book was fantastic. We learn about Mr. Sakamoto and the swim club he started with the aim of making the Olympics. Not only is the story fantastic and told in a brilliant way, the illustrations are so lush and vibrant it is hard to pick a favorite. All libraries should be adding this book to their collection.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Molly Cluff (Library!)

    Loved this real-life story of how kids playing in the irrigation ditches of Hawaii's sugar cane field united to form a Gold-medal winning olympic team! The amount of text is great for children--very non-intimidating while still getting the story across (aided by the great illustrations). Loved this real-life story of how kids playing in the irrigation ditches of Hawaii's sugar cane field united to form a Gold-medal winning olympic team! The amount of text is great for children--very non-intimidating while still getting the story across (aided by the great illustrations).

  22. 5 out of 5

    Sandra Nickel

    Sakamoto’s Swim Club is a celebration of Soichi Sakamoto’s hope and vision for the children of poor sugar plantation workers. Training them at first in irrigation ditches and later in swimming pools, he took them all the way to Olympic gold! Sakamoto’s Swim Club continues the rhythmic and pared-back verse Julie Abery debuted in Yusra Swims. This innovative approach to nonfiction slims the story down to its essence. Each beautiful full-page spread features four lines. Text such as “Science teache Sakamoto’s Swim Club is a celebration of Soichi Sakamoto’s hope and vision for the children of poor sugar plantation workers. Training them at first in irrigation ditches and later in swimming pools, he took them all the way to Olympic gold! Sakamoto’s Swim Club continues the rhythmic and pared-back verse Julie Abery debuted in Yusra Swims. This innovative approach to nonfiction slims the story down to its essence. Each beautiful full-page spread features four lines. Text such as “Science teacher’s/new approach/turns him into/master coach” makes for a fast-paced and rhyming read-aloud. An author’s note contains a photo of the swim club and full details of how Sakamoto brought his team to victory after victory.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Ruth Anne

    This is a true and inspirational story about one man’s Olympic dream. Soichi Sakamoto coached Hawaiian children swimming in irrigation ditches of a sugar plantation. His dedication and hard work led to the impossible and unlikely dream come true of coaching an Olympic Gold Medalist in 1948. His motto was “Olympics First, Olympics Always.” Short text in rhyme and colorful illustrations make this a fun read just in time for the 2021 Olympics!

  24. 5 out of 5

    Jeimy

    This picture book retells the story of The Three-Year Swim Club: The Untold Story of Maui's Sugar Ditch Kids and Their Quest for Olympic Glory. This picture book retells the story of The Three-Year Swim Club: The Untold Story of Maui's Sugar Ditch Kids and Their Quest for Olympic Glory.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Eileen Winfrey

    Man. I’m so bummed this is a quick rhyming story. Don’t get me wrong, great content and super illustrations, I just wanted a little more. I’m thankful for the author’s note at the end which does explain the historical event in more detail. Ultimately, a very nice read.

  26. 4 out of 5

    joyce w. laudon

    The title is such a spoiler! Make believe that the ending is not known and encourage a child you know to read about this team’s success. It was unlikely and led by the estimable Sakamoto who barely knew how to swim himself. The illustrations in this title are just beautiful as is the rhyming text. I recommend this one highly. Many thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for this title. All opinions are my own.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Benson Shum

    Sakamoto’s Swim Club by Julie Abery and illustrated by Chris Sasaki is an inspiring story. I’m so glad Julie and Chris created this book about seeing the potential and using his knowledge of science to help the kids see their potential. Wonderfully illustrated by Chris, the colors and imagery is stunning, and written by Julie in such a rhythmic way that it's like a song. Definitely recommend this for everyone. Sakamoto’s Swim Club by Julie Abery and illustrated by Chris Sasaki is an inspiring story. I’m so glad Julie and Chris created this book about seeing the potential and using his knowledge of science to help the kids see their potential. Wonderfully illustrated by Chris, the colors and imagery is stunning, and written by Julie in such a rhythmic way that it's like a song. Definitely recommend this for everyone.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Jo

    Told in poetic way, the story of a science teacher who coached swim, even though he's no expert himself. Swimming club who practiced in a ditch, not even a swimming pool. But these will that brought them to the olympiade even though hindered by world war. Even though recounted in not so many words, his story inspired so many people, and some like me hadn't known him before. What a struggle and prize he got. Told in poetic way, the story of a science teacher who coached swim, even though he's no expert himself. Swimming club who practiced in a ditch, not even a swimming pool. But these will that brought them to the olympiade even though hindered by world war. Even though recounted in not so many words, his story inspired so many people, and some like me hadn't known him before. What a struggle and prize he got.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Cass

    Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for sending me a digital copy to review in exchange for an honest review. Sakamoto's Swim Club by Julie Abery and illustrated by Chris Sasaki is a colourful picture book retelling the true story of Soichi Sakamoto. Local teacher Sakamoto begins teaching kids in Maui, Hawaii to swim in the nearby ditch in the 1930s. Eventually, his team worked their way from upstream swims to an actual pool and one member even makes it to the Olympics! Sasaki's work has some be Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for sending me a digital copy to review in exchange for an honest review. Sakamoto's Swim Club by Julie Abery and illustrated by Chris Sasaki is a colourful picture book retelling the true story of Soichi Sakamoto. Local teacher Sakamoto begins teaching kids in Maui, Hawaii to swim in the nearby ditch in the 1930s. Eventually, his team worked their way from upstream swims to an actual pool and one member even makes it to the Olympics! Sasaki's work has some beautiful background colour choices, and he seems to create full and lived in environments easily with sharp lines and soft shapes. Abery has also included a couple of pages at the end for adults to teach children about these events within context - eg the club stopped for a while due to WWII as members left to fight and barriers the kids overcame. Rating - 3 stars. Beautiful artwork and a rhyming introduction to something I'd never heard about.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Christine

    The illustrations, even if they were painted, made you feel like you were swimming with the team. This is an underdog book where you want to cheer for all of them. You are hoping that they do make it to the Olympics and all that happens in-between. I think that this would be a good classroom read aloud or one to keep this in their classroom library.

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