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Gertrude Ederle

by David A. Adler & illustrated by Terry Widener

Pub Date: March 1st, 2000
ISBN: 0-15-201969-3
Publisher: Harcourt

The author and illustrator (The Babe & I, 1999, Lou Gehrig: The Luckiest Man, 1997) team up for a third time in this engaging picture book biography of the first woman to swim the English Channel. Gertrude Ederle, born in 1906, learned to swim at age seven when, after falling into a pond and nearly drowning, her father decided that teaching his daughter to swim was essential. It immediately became apparent that Trudy had a great talent—she won her first big race at 15, swam from lower Manhattan to Sandy Hook, New Jersey at 16 (breaking the men’s record along the way), and won three medals at the 1924 Paris Olympics. In 1925, Trudy made her first, albeit unsuccessful, attempt to swim the English Channel and in 1926, on her second attempt, she became the first woman to successfully swim the 20-odd mile body of water. David Adler clearly places this biography in its cultural context, reminding the reader that women and girls were expected to stay at home in this era and were excluded from many activities. Women were deemed the weaker sex and to challenge this notion, especially in the world of sport, took exceptional courage and unusual determination. The stylized illustrations successfully evoke the period of the 1920s. A wide range of beautiful blues, greens, and grays depicts the various forms of water—ocean, pool, pond—and seem thickly applied, deliberately contrasting with the flatness of the human figures. A welcome addition to the growing body of works about female athletes. (Picture book/biography. 59)