CM January 12, 1996. Vol II, Number 13

image Sink or Swim.

William Pasnak.
Toronto: James Lorimer & Company, 1995. 89pp, paper, $8.95.
ISBN 1-55028-480-0.

Subject Heading:

Grades 3 - 6 / Ages 8 - 11.
Review by Katherine Matthews.


My mum is still listening and writing things down. She's wearing about twenty-seven gold bracelets, like she usually does, and I can hear them clinking as her hand moves on the pad in her lap. Finally she says, " . . . I think it sounds perfect. I'd like to sign him up for it."
When she gets off the phone, she has this great big smile on her face that's supposed to make me like the bad news she's going to give me, which is: "Dario -- you're going to summer camp."
I'm stunned. "What for? I didn't do anything!"

In Sink or Swim, twelve-year-old Dario has plans for his summer: hanging out at his Uncle's café, clearing dishes for a cut of the tips, maybe shooting a few baskets on the side. Dario's mother, however, also has plans for his summer, plans that involve two weeks at Camp Skookum.

Water sports, swimming, and sailing are the specialties of Camp Skookum, but Dario is still dealing with a fear of water stemming from a fall into a swimming pool when he was two. A clever interpretation of "swimming" which allows him to do the backstroke (and keep his face out of the water) gets him out of swimming lessons and into sailing lessons.

Dario's problems don't end there, however; his rivalry with Lindsay Rawlings comes to an exciting climax with the Windlass Island Regatta. Dario doesn't win the Regatta, but does end up getting the award for Most Improved Water Skills. Most importantly, Dario grows in the process, beginning a friendship with his former grudge mate.

Pasnak, the author of several books for children, has created an entertaining addition to Lorimer's "Sports Stories" series. Readers will be familiar with many of the characters: the nerd, the jock, the brain, the bully, the class clown. Fortunately, Pasnak imbues his main characters with enough detail to round out their personalities. Dario in particular is a likeable and thoroughly believable twelve-year-old: competitive and full of spirit.

Dialogue is lively and realistic, and humour (usually in the form of Dario's snappy one-liners and come-backs) is in great evidence.


Katherine Matthews is a Teacher/Librarian at the Centre for Urban and Community Studies, University of Toronto.

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Copyright © 1995 the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.

Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364

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