[Nonfiction Wednesday] From Ragtag Maui Swimmers to Olympic Champions

Myra here.

We are delighted to dedicate our Wednesdays to featuring nonfiction titles, as per usual. We would also be linking our nonfiction choices with our reading theme throughout the year, when we can.

This year, we hope to feature books that fit any of the following criteria:

  1. Postcolonial literature and/or [pre/post] revolutionary stories
  2. Stories by indigenous / first-nation peoples / people of colour
  3. Narratives of survival and healing, exile and migration, displacement and dispossession
  4. Books written or illustrated by people who have been colonized, oppressed, marginalized

Sakamoto’s Swim Club: How A Teacher Led An Unlikely Team To Victory (Amazon | Book Depository)

Written by Julie Abery Illustrated by Chris Sasaki
Published by: Kids Can Press (2021) ISBN: 1400231256 (ISBN13: 9781400231256) Bought a copy of the book. Book photos taken by me.

Told in rhyming text, British Julie Abery (who now lives in Switzerland) tells the story of little-known Science teacher Soichi Sakamoto who saw potential in this group of ragtag swimmers from Maui who are often chased off and treated as nuisance by local policemen.

Chris Sasaki (who also illustrated the picturebook biography Paper Son by Julie Leung (Amazon | Book Depository – see my review) upped his game here with such evocative art depicting dynamism of movement, I can almost feel the splash of the water through the pages.

Sakamoto utlized his science background and came up with innovative training techniques in what initially started off as a horribly-underfunded swim club that eventually transformed into the training ground of future Olympic contenders and champions.

Sakamoto dedicated his life to mentoring hundreds of Hawaii’s children. His goal was to make them the best they could be and give them opportunities for travel and education.

I especially appreciated the detailed Author’s Note at the end as well as a list of References for those who wish to learn more about this inspiring story of Coach Sakamoto and his three-year swim club.


#DecolonizeBookshelves2022 Update: 69 out of target 100 (Chris Sasaki – POC)

July 20, 2022 at 06:31AM Myra Garces-Bacsal