Review: Annette Feels Free

Annette Feels Free: The True Story of Annette Kellerman, World-Class Swimmer, Fashion Pioneer, and Real-Life Mermaid by Katherine Mazeika is an inspiring picture book biography of a woman who is often overlooked despite her trailblazing accomplishments in sports, dance, film, and design.

Author/Illustrator: Katie Mazeika
Publisher: Beach Lane Books (Simon & Schuster)
Published: September 13, 2022
Format: Picture Book

Following Annette Kellerman’s fascinating life, from her childhood in Australia to her many globe-trotting careers, Annette Feels Free provides young readers with a wonderful role model of an independent and determined young woman.

When Annette fell ill as a child, her legs became weak and she required braces to walk. Annette could no longer dance with her braces until she found swimming. In the water, Annette was free to kick, swim, and dance. She became a strong swimmer, and eventually, her legs were strong enough to walk without braces. But Annette would not stop swimming.

She competed across the globe, even racing against men. She performed dives and dances in the water in front of hundreds of people. She even swam in the English Channel!

Annette was free in the water, except that she couldn’t wear the same streamlined swimming suits as the men she raced against. The full skirt and pantaloons she swam in were restricting, so Annette made her own swimsuit. Everyone took notice, and Annette was even brought to court, but she won. Because of Annette, women and girls everywhere are allowed to swim in whatever makes them feel comfortable!

Annette Kellerman’s story is absolutely fascinating, and Katie Mazeika has paired it with wonderful illustrations. I love the way the water is captured on every page, allowing readers to feel the freedom it brought Annette.

Educators, don’t miss out on the free curriculum guide provided on Katie Mazeika’s website at katiemazeika.com. With discussion questions and multiple activities for students, this free resource makes this a fabulous addition to any classroom library.

Annette Feels Free officially releases tomorrow (September 13, 2022) but you can preorder your copy today wherever books are sold, including Bookshop and Amazon. (Please note: Some links provided are affiliate links. Affiliate links allow me to receive a small commission for recommendations at no cost to you. This commission is used to maintain this site and to continue bringing content to you. I always appreciate your support!)

I’m so sorry to say that I had never heard of Annette Kellerman before reading Annette Feels Free, but I won’t be forgetting her story anytime soon. Thank you so much to Beach Lane Books and Blue Slip Media for sharing a review copy of Annette Feels Free with me. I’m so thrilled to be able to share Annette’s inspiring story with you all today!

About The Author/Illustrator:

Katherine Mazeika is an author, illustrator, and designer with a BFA from the Columbus College of Art and Design. When she isn’t in the studio, she likes to spend time at the theater, in her garden, or getting lost in a good book. She lives in Ohio with her husband, two kids (Lillian and Jack), and two dogs.

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Review: All Star: How Larry Doby Smashed the Color Barrier in Baseball

We all know that Jackie Robinson was the first Black major league baseball player, but how much do you know about the second? All Star: How Larry Doby Smashed the Color Barrier in Baseball by Audrey Vernick and Cannaday Chapman introduces young readers to the man who joined the major leagues just eleven weeks after Jackie Robinson.

Title: All Star: How Larry Doby Smashed the Color Barrier in Baseball
Author: Audrey Vernick
Illustrator: Cannaday Chapman
Publisher: Clarion Books
Published: January 4, 2021
Format: Picture Book

Beginning with his childhood in Camden, South Carolina, All Star follows Larry Doby all the way to the day he helped his team win the World Series with a game-winning home run in 1948. Highlighting the changes we’ve seen since Larry Doby’s career as well as the changes we fight for today, All Star doesn’t shy away from the racism found in America and it’s favorite pastime. From detailing Larry’s first day in the dugout to pointing out the racism of Cleveland’s team name and logo in the author’s note, All Star eloquently addresses progress with young readers, inspiring them to continue changing things for the better.

Cannaday Chapman’s powerful artwork pairs perfectly with Audrey Vernick’s text. The illustrations are filled with emotion and brings Larry Doby’s story to life on every single page.

The back matter contains an author’s note with more detail about Larry’s life, a bibliography, and the iconic photo of Larry Doby and pitcher Steve Gromek embracing after their World Series victory, making this a fantastic educational resource for classroom and school libraries.

All Star officially releases tomorrow (January 4, 2021), but you can preorder your copy today wherever books are sold, including Bookshop and Amazon. (Please note: Some links provided are affiliate links. Affiliate links allow me to receive a small commission for recommendations at no cost to you. This commission is used to maintain this site and to continue bringing content to you.)

Thank you so much to Clarion Books for providing me with a review copy of All Star: How Larry Doby Smashed the Color Barrier in Baseball. I am honored to share Larry’s story on Mutually Inclusive.

About The Author:

Audrey Vernick is author of several novels and many picture books, including Brothers at Bat: The True Story of an Amazing All-Brother Baseball Team. She lives with her family near the ocean in New Jersey. Visit her online at audreyvernick.com and on Twitter @yourbuffalo.

About The Illustrator:

Cannaday Chapman is the illustrator of the picture book biographies All-Star: How Larry Doby Smashed the Color Barrier in Baseball and Feed Your Mind: The Story of August Wilson, and his work has been featured in the New York Times and on the cover of The New Yorker. He was born in upstate New York and studied illustration at the School of Visual Arts in New York City, and he currently lives and works in Berlin, Germany.

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