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SWIMMING WITH DOLPHINS by Jessie Paddock

SWIMMING WITH DOLPHINS

by Jessie Paddock

Pub Date: May 5th, 2020
ISBN: 978-1-338-53812-0
Publisher: Scholastic

A wheelchair-using seventh grader must overcome her fear in order to swim with the dolphins she loves.

For KT Wynn, leaving Iowa City and her BFFs for Fernbank, Florida, fewer than 60 days before her 13th birthday is already hard. Worse, she and her wheelchair, Sprinkle, have trouble fitting into the “jigsaw puzzle” of Fernbank Middle School, even after she meets outgoing Sabina (aka Socks) and her friends. Fortunately, Fernbank also offers the Dolphina Cove dolphin sanctuary—where KT gets the chance to swim with her favorite animals! But when it’s time, she discovers that “the thing [she loves] the most can also be the scariest.” Can she swim with dolphins and navigate the murky waters of middle school friendship? Though KT’s friends and classmates (and their hashtag-laden dialogue) are largely indistinguishable from one another, Paddock sympathetically explores homesickness and the anxious awkwardness of making friends. KT’s gradual overcoming of her dolphin fear is realistic, and her family is comfortingly supportive—particularly her 17-year-old sister, who sometimes has “mysterious teenager” moods but always has her back. KT tackles patronizing grown-ups with dry aplomb, and dolphin facts pepper her narrative. Most characters, including KT and her family, appear white. One is Jewish; another is Latinx. Socks has gluten and peanut allergies; her hairstyle, described as “lots of short, dark brown braids,” will likely lead readers to imagine her as black.

Readers taking the plunge into new activities or new places will appreciate this uplifting tale.

(Fiction. 8-12)