Swimming, Swimming by Gary Clement
Artist that he is, Clements’ illustrations, of course, speak volumes – the endpapers back and front even include a ‘how-to’ on perfecting your strokes. Text, as minimal as it is – albeit writ colorfully large when it (rarely) appears – is apparently the lyrics to the song, “Swimming, Swimming”: you can learn it for yourself, including the accompanying hand movements, right here.
Digressions aside, we’re slowly waking up in a bedroom that belongs to a boy who obviously breathes water. His walls sport two oversized swimming posters, the shirt on his floor is a graphic swimming-T, his goggles, fins, and flip-flops await the rest of his body; even his roommate is another swimmer, although he’s rather diminutive, has gills, and orange skin. No matter, he’s another fish in water, too!
Finally up and about, the boy dashes out of his house to meet three waiting friends. Together they air-swim their way to the community pool, conga-line style! After their mandatory pre-swim shower (such a welcome reminder, ahem!), the kids commence their swimming, swimming … “Oh don’t you wish you never had anything else to do?” the entire pool population chimes in!
At the end of a wet, wonderful day, the ice cream truck awaits before the friends line-swim on home to enjoy dinner with the family. And, absolutely yes, eat dessert first … life is short, and summer passes all too quickly!
What Clements ‘shows-not-tells’ is as effective as any words. His four friends represent: gender and ethnicity, check. Diversity is found throughout the pool: age, generations, body types, style choices, check. The entertaining energy of youth never stops and Clements’ pages are appropriately always in motion, whether crawl-ing in the deep end, getting lost in the pull-down of a shirt, or exchanging a coin for a chocolate cone. Rest only happens in the beginning and end – in bed, asleep!
Swimming is the perfect companion to JiHyeon Lee’s wordless Pool: both make for refreshing adventures as schools end, temperatures rise, and those cooling waters beckon. Just make sure the books stay safe and dry. You’re going to want to dive back in again and again.