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America's Champion Swimmer: Gertrude Ederle



Last updated Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Author: David Adler
Date of Publication: 2001
ISBN: 0152019693
Grade Level: 3rd    (GLCs: Click here for grade level guidelines.)
Date(s) Used: Jun. 2007

Synopsis: From Publishers Weekly: 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.

Discussion topics for before reading:
•  Who is your favorite athlete?
•  Do you know any female athletes?
•  Can both men and women be good athletes?
•  Can you swim? Are you a good swimmer?
•  Is it important to learn how to swim? Is it easy?

Discussion topics for during/after reading:
•  Is it harder to swim in the ocean vs a swimming pool?
•  What other sports are women good at?
•  How important was Gertrude’s family to her success?
•  Was everyone encouraging of Gertrude’s swim?
•  Can you swim or run for 14 hours straight? (from the time you wake up until the time you go to bed)
•  Do you have any goals you would like to accomplish? (college, learning to ride a bike, getting a good grade, finishing a book)

Craft ideas:
•  Make a medal of one of your accomplishments—cut out the shape of your medal and attach yarn or string.
•  Write your own newspaper headline and a few lines of your article—feature yourself as accomplishing a goal. Write how your family helps you with your goal/accomplishment.

*Note: These craft ideas are just suggestions. You can use them, but you don’t have to use them. You can expand upon them, or add your own twist. Remember, though, that the focus of your time should not be on the development and execution of a craft; the focus should be on the read-aloud and the enjoyment of the book!