cover image America's Champion Swimmer: Gertrude Ederle

America's Champion Swimmer: Gertrude Ederle

David A. Adler. Harcourt Children's Books, $16 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-15-201969-3

The team behind The Babe & I and Lou Gehrig: The Luckiest Man here abandons the baseball field for the chilly, choppy waters of the English Channel, which Ederle swam across in 1926. The first woman to accomplish this feat, Ederle also beat, by almost two hours, the existing men's record. Widener's stylized acrylic paintings again creatively evoke a bygone era, while Adler's direct yet descriptive narrative establishes the historical context. He notes that in 1906, the year of Ederle's birth, women in most states could not vote: ""Many people felt that a woman's place was in the home,"" writes Adler. ""But Gertrude Ederle's place was in the water."" Readers will warm to the heroine, a city kid who was taught how to swim only after she, at age seven, fell into a pond and nearly drowned. Text and art offer a compelling, in-depth account of the adult Ederle's crossing of the Channel, as she swam for more than 14 hours from Cape Gris-Nez, France, to Kingsdown, England, despite driving rain, strong winds, high waves, a powerful current--and her trainer's directive to quit. An exciting story, well told; kids will dive right in. Ages 6-9. (Mar.)