Trudy's Big Swim: How Gertrude Ederle Swam the English Channel and Took the World by Storm

illus. by Matt Collins. 40p. chron. further reading. notes. websites. Holiday House. Feb. 2017. Tr $16.95. ISBN 9780823436651.
Gr 2–4—Prolific writer Macy has created a visually stunning picture book biography of Olympian Gertrude Ederle's history-making swim across the English Channel in 1926. Collins's Prismacolor pencils on vellum illuminate the hazards of the 21-mile swim: jellyfish, sharks, driftwood, and strong currents, as well as the logistics of eating during the 14-hour endeavor. Two hundred people had previously attempted the swim prior to Ederle, and only 12 had made it, all of whom were men. Ederle was a teenage success story, winning one gold and two bronze medals at the 1924 Olympics. Readers will be enthralled to discover how she kept warm, battled leg cramps, and kept her spirits up and how she actually swam 35 more miles because the current threw her off course. The afterword and author's note are what really make this work stand out from others. This is one of the few titles to mention that Ederle was not in fact a teen at the time of the crossing. She had already turned 20, but saying she was a teenager made her feat even more impressive, so the media ran with it. Ederle's life after the crossing was just as remarkable. She was nearly deaf after age 22, and a back injury hampered her chances of walking or swimming again. But Ederle continued to walk and eventually taught swimming to deaf children, living to the ripe old age of 98. Back matter includes additional context on the politics and culture of the United States in the 1920s.
VERDICT A fantastically illustrated account of a groundbreaking event in women's sports history, and a fine addition to biography collections.

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