Book review: Trudy’s Big Swim: How Gertrude Ederle Swam the English Channel and Took the World by Storm, by Sue Macy, illustrated by Matt Collins

Macy, Sue. Trudy’s Big Swim: How Gertrude Ederle Swam the English Channel and Took the World by Storm. Illus. by Matt Collins. Holiday House, 2017. $16.95. 36p. ISBN 978-0-8234-3665-1. Ages 6-10. P9Q9

Tides forced the first woman to swim the English Channel to go five miles farther on August 26, 2026, but she still beat the men’s record by over two hours. Before Ederle’s swim, 200 people had tried the crossing, but only five men had succeeded. Teenager “Trudy” had earned records for swimming sprint distances, and she had won Olympic medals in 1924. Two years later, when she was 20, she had already set 29 swimming records before that she swam the Channel’s 26 miles in 14 hours and 39 minutes. Macy follows the story of her dangerous win with the preface to her challenge during her career’s early days in simple text while Collins uses prismacolor pencils and Adobe Photoshop for the illustrations’ brilliant colors. An Afterword and Author’s Note discusses the importance of sports in liberating women, citing Title IX, and tells about Ederle’s later life and burial in the Bronx. Endpapers provide a timeline of 1920s sports highlights.

Verdict: Articulate descriptive text combine with the cinematic perspectives of Collins’ illustrations to create a “you-are-there” realistic view of Ederle’s adventure.

April 2017 review by Nel Ward.

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