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SWIMMING SAL by Carol Molski


by Carol Molski & illustrated by Mary Newell DePalma

Age Range: 4 - 7

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 2009
ISBN: 978-0-8028-5327-1
Publisher: Eerdmans

Sal has a serious doggy dilemma. Like the other pups at Hilltop Farm, this Portuguese water dog hopes to win a medal in a canine competition, though there are no swimming events to showcase her unique talent. To develop her skills, Sal sneaks into the local pool to practice with the girls’ swim team. No matter her tactic, the coach refuses the pooch an opportunity until a teammate’s injury leaves the relay team one short. In a predictable sequence of events, Sal’s heartfelt doggy paddle provides crucial support in the race. Sal’s energetic portrayal is the strongest aspect of this effort; her curly black fur and wide-eyed expressions shine against her compact frame. DePalma’s acrylics on watercolor paper add depth and personality, though contrived dialogue detracts from the visuals. Also, the coach’s about-face on Sal’s participation is all too convenient. Though Sal may be the “swimmingest dog in the world,” the plot’s formulaic structure drags her down. (Picture book. 4-7)