SIXTEEN YEARS IN SIXTEEN SECONDS: The Sammy Lee Story

Paula Yoo, Author, Dom Lee, Illustrator , illus. by Dom Lee. Lee & Low $16.95 (32p) ISBN 978-1-58430-247-6

Yoo debuts with an inspiring tribute to the first Asian-American to win an Olympic gold medal, in 1948. The story begins when Sammy is 12 years old in 1932 California and documents his struggle to reach the top of the diving world. The son of Korean immigrants, he is not allowed to swim at the public pool except on Wednesdays, "when people of color were allowed to go inside." The straightforward, somewhat lengthy account chronicles how Sammy trains by diving into a sandpit the other days of the week—which leads to a fortuitous decision to enroll in gymnastics to help him with his sand landings—finds, a coach, and makes peace with his father, who urges Sammy to forgo his Olympic dream in favor of becoming a doctor. Third-person omniscient narration grants readers access to Sammy's thoughts and feelings. As he prepares for his gold-medal dive, "He heard the sound of water lapping against the sides of the pool, the murmuring of the people, the beating of his heart." Lee's (Baseball Saved Us ) sepia-tinged textured illustrations, made by scratching images out of wax melted over acrylic paints, lend a graceful, respectful tone to the story. Especially noteworthy are three vertical panels depicting his winning dive (an echo of an early three-panel spread that shows one of Sammy's awkward first diving attempts). Touching on themes of discrimination and determination, this motivational tale concludes with an author's note that provides details about Sammy's post-Olympic life. Ages 6-up. (Apr.)

Reviewed on: 04/04/2005
Release date: 04/01/2005
Genre: Children's
Portable Document Format (PDF) - 978-0-89239-344-2
Portable Document Format (PDF) - 978-1-60060-862-9
Paperback - 32 pages - 978-1-60060-453-9
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