When You Can Swim (Hardcover)

When You Can Swim By Jack Wong, Jack Wong (Illustrator) Cover Image

When You Can Swim (Hardcover)

By Jack Wong, Jack Wong (Illustrator)


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Winner of the Boston Globe-Horn Book Picture Book Award

A reverent celebration of learning to swim among a diverse cast of children and families who each experience the mysterious joys of water in nature.

In this exploration of what it truly means to swim, expansive vignettes introduce sandpipers, tannin-soaked lakes, and the feeling of a small waterfall on sun-soaked shoulders. But what about those who are afraid of the water’s mysterious ways and resist learning to swim? Painting a compelling picture of the many joys and surprises that the water holds, artist and author Jack Wong has delivered an empowering, poetic journey that invites children to discover their confidence within to receive the warmth and wonder of the natural world.

JACK WONG has created a masterpiece drawn from his lived experience of growing up with a grandmother who spent her childhood in the rivers of Borneo and a mother — growing up in late 1950s China — who was forbidden to learn to swim. Born in Hong Kong and raised in Vancouver, Jack holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Nova Scotia College of Art and Design in Halifax, Canada, where he now lives with his wife and two cats.

Product Details ISBN: 9781338830965
ISBN-10: 1338830961
Publisher: Orchard Books
Publication Date: May 2nd, 2023
Pages: 48
Language: English

Praise for When You Can Swim:

Amazon Best Book of May: Ages 3-5

Publishers Weekly Best Summer Read for 2023

* “In VISUALLY INVENTIVE, LOVINGLY FINISHED pastel-and-watercolor spreads and sinuous lines of prose-poetry, debut author-illustrator Wong showcases myriad children encountering the joys of swimming.” Publishers Weekly. starred review

* “[When You Can Swim] is BOUND TO INSPIRE all swimmers to embrace nature, no matter where they are on their journey….A GORGEOUSLY RENDERED love letter to swimming and the magical experiences that it can unlock.” Kirkus Reviews, starred review

* “Jack Wong’s BREATHTAKING watery landscapes, strong currents surge beneath rushing waterfalls, and sunlight shimmers on ocean waves and the surface of a river…Text and illustrations merge SEAMLESSLY….Wong’s playful perspectives are CAPTIVATING…STUNNING…[A] SPLENDID PICTURE BOOK.” BookPage, starred review

* “With POETIC text and GORGEOUS, INCLUSIVE illustrations, Wong invites readers to learn how to swim—to conquer fear of the water, and also to reclaim aquatic spaces for Brown, Black, and differently abled bodies…This isn’t just a book about swimming but also ‘about our ideas of the world’; it’s a manifesto that ‘this belongs to you, too.’” Horn Book, starred review

“In watercolors and pastels, this picture book EXTOLS the future joys of swimming in many different locales.” Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, “New Books for 2023 Summer Reading”

“[A] MARVELOUS book with its GLORIOUS poetry and SPECTACULAR pastel and watercolor illustrations offers an INSPIRING of what is possible when someone conquers their fear of the water and dares to swim in the ocean, a pond, a lake, a canal, a swimming pool.” The Buffalo News


“This EXQUISITELY ILLUSTRATED picture book celebrates all the wonder and adventure to be found when you sink your body into water.” Northern Virginia Magazine