WENDY WILLOW WATER BALLERINA
Author: Diane Garcia
Illustrator: Ida Noelle Calumpang
Publisher: CreateSpace (2018)
Age Range: 4 and Up
Grade Level: Kinder and Up
An Excerpt from the Amazon Synopsis: Do you have a daughter who loves swimming? Is she the child you can’t get out of the pool to have lunch or put more lotion on? Does she also like to dance, listen to music, or play dress up? If any of these things apply, you might have a “Water Ballerina” or “Synchronized Swimmer” on your hands! This book tells the story of how author, Diane Garcia (Wendy Willow), first learned synchronized swimming when she was11 years old, at a swim club in Staten Island, NY. It is beautifully illustrated in watercolor by one of her former coaches, Ida Noelle Calumpang, a former member of the Philippine National Synchronized Swimming Team.
I had never heard of a water ballerina before, so I was anxious to read Diane Garcia’s book, “Wendy Willow Water Ballerina.” Come to find out, water ballerinas are synchronized swimmers! How fun!
Wendy Willow started taking synchronized swimming lessons at 11 years old. The story takes readers on the journey with Wendy as she makes new friends, develops her “Synchro” skills, and discovers a passion for a team sport that will remain with her throughout her life. Spoiler Alert! Wendy Willow is the author, Diane Garcia and her story makes for a lovely memoir in “Wendy Willow Water Ballerina.”
There are several valuable nuggets to take away from reading this book, beginning with the way the synchro teacher notices Wendy is too shy and waves her over to learn more about the team – this changes Wendy’s life forever! It’s important to teach young girls (and boys!) about stepping out of your comfort zone, overcoming your nerves and fears, and trying new things.
The story also teaches the importance of working together as a team, practicing good sportsmanship, building other people up, becoming confident in your own abilities, and the value of friendship – just to name a few things!
The pictures are lovely, soft hues and happy faces line the pages and add an important visual element to the story. I love the pictures of the water ballerinas putting on their synchro show.
Geared toward school-aged children, “Wendy the Water Ballerina” may inspire the next generation of water ballerinas, but the story is appealing for all age groups. I enjoyed learning that Diane is still very involved in the Synchro world and the illustrator, Ida Noelle Calumpang is also a synchronized swimmer – such inspirational ladies!
As a side note: The 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo will feature synchronized swimming (artistic swimming) so Wendy Willow Water Ballerina is a great book to introduce the sport to your young ones in preparation for the big event!
About the Author
Diane Garcia was a New York City elementary school teacher and is a synchronized swimmer. She has been swimming “Synchro” since she was 11 years old. As a second-grade teacher she read many books about baseball, soccer, ballet, etc. to her students, but there weren’t any books about her sport, synchronized swimming. She decided to write “Wendy Willow Water Ballerina” to educate children and parents about synchronized swimming.
“My reason for writing this book is to spread awareness of this sport that is such fun, such great exercise, can be done well into your eighties, and gets so little publicity. It’s not just for Olympic swimmers!” – Dianne Garcia
You can also learn more about Diane on the USA Synchro website…usasynchro.org. At the site, click on “News” and look for “Master Swimmer Spreading Synchro Through Children’s Book” by Diane Garcia, Oct.22,2019.
About the Illustrator
Ida Noelle Calumpang is an illustrator and swimmer who discovered her passion for the arts and the aquatics at a very young age. She started speed swimming at the age of seven and went on to become a synchronized swimmer and coach by the time she reached university. Her love of water influences her art where she explores worlds of whimsy and nature, while her artistry has poured into her swimming life where she worked as a professional mermaid and aquatic performer.
I obtained a copy of this book to review from the author in exchange for an honest review. Need a picture book review? Contact Me!
Interested in reading this book?
Consider purchasing it through this link: “Wendy Willow Water Ballerina: A story about Synchronized Swimming.” As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases at no extra cost to you. Thanks!