Swim Team, written and illustrated by Johnnie Christmas, published by Harper Alley, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.
Swim Team, written and illustrated by Johnny Christmas, is a middle-grade graphic novel that shares Bree’s story as she transitions from her math- and puzzle-loving world in New York to a new life in Florida in a middle school that centers around swimming, and she cannot swim. Enith Brigitha Middle School is named for a Black Olympian swimmer and the school has a history of almost winning at the state swimming championships. When Bree makes friends with an elderly Black neighbor who was a competitive swimmer, she not only finds an amazing coach and mentor, she finds someone who helps her understand the deep racist history behind swimming and how that is still impacting people of color today. Christmas’s accessible illustrations vividly match the emotions of the text as the reader experiences anxiety, hope, and joy hand in hand with Bree as the story unfolds. In the end, Bree learns how to navigate not only the water but her own anxieties and to build meaningful relationships.
Author: Johnnie Christmas
Award: 2023 Honor Book for Older Children