YUM, Hyewon. Saturday Is Swimming Day. illus. by Hyewon Yum. 40p. Candlewick. Jun. 2018. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780763691172.
PreS-Gr 2–A young child conquers a fear of swimming in this charming, child-focused picture book. The unnamed first-person narrator, a preschooler with straight black hair and a strawberry-printed swimsuit, wakes up with a stomachache on the first day of swimming lessons. Blonde, curly-haired Mom offers reassurances that it will probably go away at the pool, but meeting the friendly instructor, Mary, and seeing the excitement of the other budding swimmers can’t drive away the butterflies. The child dawdles in the dressing room and spends the lesson on dry ground. The next Saturday, the stomachache has returned, but Mary is willing to offer support while the hesitant young protagonist tries “ice cream scoops.” Finding the warm water soothing, the positive experience is enough to inspire evening paddling practice at home in the bathtub. Slowly, the child becomes more comfortable in the water (a better-fitting swim cap helps), progressing all the way to floating alone like a starfish and having splashing contests with the other children. Yum’s watercolor and colored pencil illustrations perfectly capture a young child’s expressions, conveying reluctance and nervousness as much through body position as through the text. The instructor and classmates are portrayed as a diverse group inclusive of ethnicity and body type. VERDICT An empowering story of gradually overcoming fear that will resonate with young children. A great purchase for most collections.–Chelsea Couillard-Smith, Hennepin County Library, MN