________________ CM . . . . Volume XX Number 37. . . .May 23, 2014


Annaleise Carr: How I Conquered Lake Ontario to Help Kids Battling Cancer. (Recordbooks).

Annaleise Carr as told to Deborah Ellis.
Toronto, ON: James Lorimer, 2014.
144 pp., pbk., hc. & epub, $9.95 (pbk.), $16.95 (hc.), $8.95 (epub).
ISBN 978-1-4594-0631-5 (pbk.), ISBN 978-1-4594-0632-2 (hc.), ISBN 978-1-4594-0633-9 (epub).

Subject Headings:
Carr, Annaleise, 1998-
Swimmers-Canada-Biography-Juvenile literature.
Women swimmers-Canada-Biography-Juvenile literature.
Long distance swimming-Ontario, Lake (N.Y. and Ont.)-Juvenile literature.

Grades 7-11 / Ages 12-16.

Review by Val Ken Lem.

***1/2 /4



“The boats will move away from you in the dark,” my coach had told me. “It’s too dangerous to have them close. But you will still be able to see the lights of the boats, and the people will be able to see you.”

I tried not to think about the hours ahead and kept focused on the moment, on each stroke and on each kick.

The lights on the boat could not be very bright because bright lights attract eels, and I did not want to have to deal with eels!


When Annaleise Carr emerged from Lake Ontario and scrambled onto the shore of Marilyn Bell Park near the Canadian National Exhibition grounds in Toronto on the evening of August 19, 2012, she became the youngest marathon swimmer to have made a solo crossing of the lake. Only 14 years of age, Carr achieved an athletic feat that few would even contemplate, and she did this to raise funds for Camp Trillium that serves children (and their families) with cancer. She hoped to raise $30,000, but press coverage of her “Radical Crossing” inspired donors during and after the swim so that, in total, she has raised almost ten times this amount for the camp.

     In telling her story in partnership with the award-winning writer and champion of young women, Deborah Ellis, Carr has found yet another partner to help her to achieve new goals and share her inspiring story. Carr’s story is truly one that highlights the important roles that many individuals and corporate and media sponsors played in making this swim possible. At the core of the story though is Carr whose individual vision, determination, Christian faith and hugely supportive family and team helped her to meet the physical and mental challenges of the swim.

     The story is told with the use of re-imagined dialogue. Countless factual details, imbedded in the narrative, explain issues such as the regulatory and safety role played by Solo Swims of Ontario, Inc. that must sanction all such attempted crossings, the need for months of training, efforts to find sponsors in order to meet the costs of the expedition, itself, in addition to raising funds for the camp. Additional facts, such as What is cancer? Hypothermia, Support boats, and Chemotherapy, are explained in brief panels scattered at appropriate places throughout the text. Carr recalls the challenges of the swim, itself, and how she coped with them. Black and white photographs complement the text. A brief glossary, index, brief bibliography, list of crew members and extensive acknowledgments fill out the end of the book.

     There are a couple of minor inconsistencies that slipped past the proofing stages. The qualifying swim required by Solo Swim Swims of Ontario is 16 or 18 km, but not both. To quibble about fine details seems too petty to dwell upon. Annaleise Carr: How I Conquered Lake Ontario to Help Kids Battling Cancer is an informative, inspiring story of a remarkable young Canadian woman.

Highly Recommended.

Val Ken Lem is a librarian at Ryerson University in Toronto, ON.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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