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Rita’s times aren’t good enough to swim with the Sharks—the team where all her friends compete. At first she’s determined to improve, but is Rita ready to attempt complicated flip turns? Or is there another way for Rita to join the Sharks? Early readers will eagerly dive into this latest book in the GYM SHORTS series—sure...

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Swimming with Sharks

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Rita’s times aren’t good enough to swim with the Sharks—the team where all her friends compete. At first she’s determined to improve, but is Rita ready to attempt complicated flip turns? Or is there another way for Rita to join the Sharks? Early readers will eagerly dive into this latest book in the GYM SHORTS series—sure to make a splash with new readers.

Swimming with Sharks is a 2009 Bank Street - Best Children's Book of the Year.

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Claudia Mills
In this short novel in her "Gym Shorts" series, Hicks expertly reaches out to reluctant readers seeking short, briskly paced chapters filled with sports action: an added bonus is a deftly delivered message of perseverance in the face of challenges. Rita is assigned to the slower-swimming Dolphins swim team, while all her friends make the cut for the faster-swimming Sharks. The problem? Rita can't do flip turns and refuses even to try, for when she does, "She felt like she'd sucked root beer up her nose." Rita makes a list of SWIMMING-GOOD THINGS and SWIMMING-BAD THINGS, and the bad things list (headed by "Flip turns stink") beats out the good things list 6 to 3. So why not quit? After all, "When something isn't you, it's okay to quit." Although this message actually has some plausibility (why isn't it beneficial to learn which activities are "us" and which ones aren't?), of course, Rita masters flip turns enough to join the Sharks. It is problematic that Rita has to learn how to do flip turns from the Internet, and from lessons from a friend; her coach doesn't even realize she can do the turns until the date of the crucial meet. What on earth have they been doing at practice? Still, it is satisfying to see Rita triumph, and Hicks doesn't overdo Rita's victory—realistically, Rita remains the slowest swimmer on the Sharks, with plenty of work ahead, and no pat answers offered to the deeper questions raised. Reviewer: Claudia Mills, Ph.D.
School Library Journal

Gr 2-4

In this installment in the beginning-chapter-book series, Rita does not earn a place on her friends' swimming team, the Sharks. Instead, she is a Dolphin, which disappoints her so much that she considers quitting the sport. Then she realizes that her younger sister, Tia, also faces a challenge: riding a two-wheel bicycle. Tia's mastering of the skill serves as an inspiration for Rita, who is able to bounce back. Although there is not a great deal of character development, this optional purchase has some appeal.-Andrea Tarr, Corona Public Library, CA

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781429998246
  • Publisher: Roaring Brook Press
  • Publication date: 9/2/2008
  • Series: Gym Shorts Series
  • Sold by: Macmillan
  • Format: eBook
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 64
  • Sales rank: 1,290,853
  • Age range: 7 - 10 Years
  • File size: 2 MB

Meet the Author

BETTY HICKS is the author of the GYM SHORTS series— action-filled sports stories that pack the energy of the gym into short novels for kids new to reading. Betty Hicks lives in Greensboro, North Carolina.

ADAM McCAULEY is the illustrator of several successful fiction series including the TIME WARP TRIO and the WAYSIDE SCHOOL books. He lives in San Francisco, California

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Read an Excerpt

Swimming with Sharks
1YOU'RE A DOLPHIN!The worst day of Rita's life was the day she became a dolphin.A day like that should have been stamped with a warning label:BEWARE!TODAY WILL BE BADBut, there had been no warning. None.Rita had popped out of bed. She couldn't wait to put on her brand-new warm-up suit--the purple one with ruffles. She couldn't stop smiling. She was one hundred percent ready to try out for the swim team!Even after Rita got to the pool, there was still no warning. It felt like a good day.Rita did a perfect racing dive. She loved how the water felt as her body sliced through it. Bubbles streamed all over her, welcoming her to a smooth underwater world.When she'd swum two laps, Miss York punched Rita's time on her stop watch."Rita," she said. "You're a Dolphin!""Woo hoo!" cheered Rita. She lifted her hands into the air and twirled like a dancer.Dolphins, thought Rita, are very cool fish. They're sleek, smart, friendly, fast. And, soooo graceful. She glided over and took her place beside two other kids that Miss York had named Dolphins.Rita's friends, Rocky, Jazz, and Henry stood across from her, dripping pool water.Rita waited for Miss York to tell them that they were Dolphins, too.Miss York pointed to Jazz. "You're a Shark."A Shark? thought Rita. Jazz is a Shark? Not a Dolphin? She tilted her head and banged it with her hand. Was water stuck in her ear?"Henry," announced Miss York. "You're a Shark, too."Jazz and Henry hurried over to form a new group. Rita's mouth fell open. Her towel slid off her shoulders and landed in the water that had puddled at her feet."Rocky," said Miss York. She checked his name off on her clipboard. "Shark."Rita's heart felt as if someone was squeezing it. It needed room to beat, but there wasn't any.She picked up her drippy towel and pulled it tight around her shoulders.Miss York assigned five more people. "Shark. Dolphin. Dolphin. Shark. Shark." Rita watched all her friends become Sharks. She didn't know a single kid who was a Dolphin. Not one. She elbowed the boy next to her. "How do I get to be a Shark?""Ow," said the boy. He rubbed his arm."Sorry," said Rita. She hadn't meant to hurt him. Sometimes her jabs got carried away.Before he could answer, Miss York explained, "Sharks swam faster times, so they'll form one team. Dolphins," Miss York smiled at Rita's group, "will make up a second team. At swim meets, each team competes against teams that swim like they do."Oh! Rita sighed with relief. She'd be at the same meets as her friends. They'd just swim different races.Miss York passed out schedules.Rita did a little wiggle dance with her hips. Dolphins have style, she thought.Rita looked at the schedule. Dolphin Meets, she read on one side--Thursdays. She turned it over. Shark Meets--Saturdays.No way.Dolphins are stupid, thought Rita.Text copyright © 2008 by Betty Hicks
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