When You Can Swim

Scholastic Audio. May 2023. 16p. $6.99. ISBN 9781339029603.
PreS-Gr 3Wong’s 2023 Boston Globe–Horn Book Award–winning debut is absolutely enchanting in any format. On the page, Wong’s glorious art celebrates swimmers of every background, enjoying beckoning bodies of water from beaches to ponds to rivers—with glimpses of the magical worlds beneath. Deftly narrated by Tyo over an uplifting soundtrack of nature and musical snippets, the audiobook is an explicit read-along featuring a second narration with turn-the-page splash-y cues. Wong tenderly reads his vulnerable author’s note, “When I Learned to Swim,” revealing his initial discomfort at the public pool while “growing up as an immigrant kid in Canada.” The young children here are never alone, always guided by caring adults by their side, promising “the water’s welcome,” “landscapes as foreign as the moon,” “the clinking of waves,” of “rising, floating, daring, conquering” together.
VERDICT Libraries should provide ready access to this symbiotic visual/aural feast.

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