Swim Team

by Johnnie Christmas (Author) Johnnie Christmas (Illustrator)

Swim Team
Reading Level: 4th – 5th Grade

"Combines wonderful characters and history to create a story that will make you want to dive right in!" JERRY CRAFT, author of the Newbery Medal-winning New Kid

A splashy, contemporary middle grade graphic novel from bestselling comics creator Johnnie Christmas!

Bree can't wait for her first day at her new middle school, Enith Brigitha, home to the Mighty Manatees--until she's stuck with the only elective that fits her schedule, the dreaded Swim 101. The thought of swimming makes Bree more than a little queasy, yet she's forced to dive headfirst into one of her greatest fears. Lucky for her, Etta, an elderly occupant of her apartment building and former swim team captain, is willing to help. With Etta's training and a lot of hard work, Bree suddenly finds her swim-crazed community counting on her to turn the school's failing team around. But that's easier said than done, especially when their rival, the prestigious Holyoke Prep, has everything they need to leave the Mighty Manatees in their wake.

Can Bree defy the odds and guide her team to a state championship, or have the Manatees swum their last lap--for good?

Praise for SWIM TEAM: "A revelation! You'll root for Swim Team--the water is just right." --JOHN JENNINGS, New York Times bestselling and Eisner Award-winning creator

"Swim Team is a beautiful story about trying new things. Johnnie Christmas is a fantastic storyteller and artist." --KAZU KIBUISHI, author of Amulet

"Full of charm, heart, and pulse-pounding races. A winner!" --GENE LUEN YANG, author of American Born Chinese and Dragon Hoops

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Starred Review
Problem-solving through perseverance and friendship is the real win in this deeply smart and inspiring story.

School Library Journal

Starred Review

Publisher's Weekly

Starred Review

When Bree and her single father move from Brooklyn to Florida, Bree’s dad encourages her to keep an open mind, emphasizing the way small changes can result in “big unpredictable effects.” The middle schooler enjoys learning math, solving puzzles, and spending time with her father, but experiences worry and self-doubt around making new friends and playing sports—especially swimming, which she’s never learned to do. But she soon befriends neighbor Clara, an enthusiastic swimmer on the future classmates’ underfunded school team, which is on the verge of losing its pool. Bree does everything she can to steer clear of water activities, but swimming seems to be a way of life in Florida, and a full-up elective math course lands her in the only course still open: Swim 101. When elder Ms. Etta, a neighbor at the family’s apartment complex, saves Bree from a near drowning, the two build a close bond that propels Bree into confidence in the water, and into a local swim legend’s legacy. Challenging the idea that “Black people aren’t good at swimming,” this middle grade debut from Christmas (the Angel Catbird series, for adults) details segregation’s generational impact through a warmhearted story of community, Black diasporic identity, and learning, all portrayed in kinetic contemporary art. Ages 8–12. Agent: Judith Hansen, Hansen Literary. (May)

Copyright 2022 Publishers Weekly, LLC Used with permission


Starred Review
powerful, knowledgeable, and pressing exploration of the intersection where swimming meets Black identity. Empowerment through swimming and swim team is well-embodied in Bree, a smart, perseverant, anxious kid who readers will embrace instantly. The friendly and familiar style of Christmas' linework pours out into some true artistry.

Review quotes

Combines wonderful characters and history to create a story that will make you want to dive right in!—Jerry Craft, author of the Newbery Award-winning New Kid
Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
Publication date
May 20, 2022
BISAC categories
JUV008000 - Juvenile Fiction | Comics & Graphic Novels | General
JUV039090 - Juvenile Fiction | Social Themes | New Experience
JUV011010 - Juvenile Fiction | People & Places | United States - African-American
JUV032060 - Juvenile Fiction | Sports & Recreation | Water Sports
Library of Congress categories

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