Posted by: Kathy Temean | October 4, 2022

Book Giveaway: SPLASH by Elisa Boxer

Elisa Boxer has written a new picture book, SPLASH, illustrated by Elizabeth Baddeley and published by Sleeping Bear Press. They have agreed to send a copy to the one lucky winner in the US.

Just leave a comment. Reblog, tweet, or talk about it on Facebook with a link and you will get additional chances to win. Let me know other things you did to share the good news, so I can put the right amount of tickets in my basket for you. Sharing on Facebook, Twitter or reblogging really helps spread the word for a new book. So, thanks for helping Elisa and Elizabeth.

If you have signed up to follow my blog and it is delivered to you everyday, please let me know when you leave a comment and I will give you an extra ticket. If you want to make sure you don’t miss seeing that you won, please click “Notify Me of Follow-Up Comments by Email” box. I will leave a comment in reply if you win the book. Thanks!


Ethelda Bleibtrey was a girl with guts who loved the water. As a child with polio in the early 1900s, swimming set her free. The water released her from her pain and helped her build strong muscle–and a powerful spirit. From then on, from the New York beaches to the choppy waters of the 1920 Olympics to the Central Park Reservoir, Ethelda made a splash wherever she went. For Ethelda, doing the right thing sometimes came with a price–change often does–but Ethelda helped make the world better than how she found it. Splash!


Hi Kathy! I’m so happy to be back on your blog sharing my journey for SPLASH! Ethelda Bleibtrey Makes Waves of Change. October is a big month for this book, as it marks our official release as a Junior Library Guild selection!

Knowing that the book will make its way into more libraries and classrooms is such a delight, because that means more young readers will learn about (and hopefully be inspired by) Ethelda Bleibtrey’s barrier-breaking, rule-changing ways!

As far as I’m concerned, we can never have too many of these rebel role models.

I first came across Ethelda right after I’d finished writing The Voice That Won the Vote (Sleeping Bear Press, 2020, illustrated by Vivien Mildenberger), about the mom who helped save suffrage. I was searching for another little-known change maker to feature in a picture book, and swimming is a sport I’m particularly passionate about. So Ethelda came up during an internet search combining unsung heroes, women’s rights, and swimming. The fact that she was the first American woman to win Olympic gold in swimming was a feat in itself, but when I learned that she also took up the sport to heal from polio, and to change some outdated social norms, I knew I’d found my next picture book subject.

Sleeping Bear Press was the perfect home. I knew that my editor for Vote, Sarah Rockett, loved little-known fearless female heroes as much as I did. And Sarah’s a former competitive swimmer. And, get this, she had dressed up as Ethelda for her 8th grade Become a Historical Figure presentation. What are the odds, eh? So we both felt like this was meant to be!

When Sarah told me that Elizabeth Baddeley was on board as the illustrator, I was elated! From the moment I saw Elizabeth’s preliminary sketches, I was in awe of how she managed to make Ethelda pop off the page and bring her character, as well as the water, to life. A recent School Library Journal review characterized the water as “almost as another character to expand what readers know about Bleibtrey herself.” I love this. The water as another character! Such a unique and spot-on concept. And while Elizabeth told me this specific artistic feat was a subconscious one, she did share that her own experience as a swimmer influenced her work on this book.

“I felt like I could really understand how being in the water could make Ethelda feel more at ease in her body – like she was flying,” Elizabeth told me. Four years ago, while pregnant with her son, Elizabeth swam frequently, due to back pain. It was hard to move around. But when she got in the water, “Everything was buoyant! The pool was such a special place where I could really feel like myself again.,” Elizabeth told me. This sense of the water as home comes across so beautifully in her art.

Cool fact: Although Elizabeth did a lot of the sketches digitally, this was the first book where she did all of the final art the old-fashioned way: with watercolor, gouache and colored pencil.

Speaking of back-to-basic traditional creations, the book launch itself, for me, was an unexpected lesson in pivoting that panned out better than I could have imagined. On launch day, I was scheduled to do a reading and signing at my local Scarborough Public Library. Except the books were in cargo containers, due to paper shortages and supply chain issues. No worries! At least I’d have my author copy by then, which Sleeping Bear Press kindly gave me permission to read, even though we’re not generally supposed to do story times with books that haven’t come out yet.

But, um, turns out all hard copies were delayed too. So, I did a hasty art project that involved taping a digital PDF of SPLASH! inside one of my previous books of approximately the same size. I imagined it being a perfect substitute. It did not look exactly how I pictured it would. It looked, in fact, like a hatchet job.

So, I apologetically explained everything to this wonderful crowd that had gathered on the library lawn to hear the book. And I read it. And children came closer to look. And they asked questions. Like how many rolls of tape I had used. And why not glue. And could they take home this page that is dangling. And am I going to save the “book” forever. And parents came up to say thank you, because apparently along with a story time their kids got a lesson in problem solving and making a backup plan and getting creative and just doing the best you can.

And I got a lesson from those kids in how some messes turn out to be absolute magic.

A big bonus: Because of all the delays, our covers were able to be printed with the blingy gold Junior Library Guild seal! That sometimes doesn’t happen until a book goes into its second printing. So thanks to the kind folks at Junior Library Guild, I have a bunch of extra gold seals that were going to go on the books, that I now get to stick all around the house. So essentially, the book launch made a splash in ways that took some chances, broke a few old rules, and created some new ones. I’m hoping Ethelda would be proud 😉


Elisa Boxer Elisa Boxer is an Emmy and Murrow award winning journalist whose work has been featured in publications including The New York Times and Fast Company. She has reported for newspapers, magazines and TV stations, and has a passion for telling stories about people finding the courage to create change. She is the author of The Voice That Won the VoteA Seat at the TableOne Turtle’s Last Straw, SPLASH! and Covered in Color, which Kirkus recently called “compelling from cover to cover” in a starred review.

Elisa lives in Maine, and you can visit her at or at twitter:
facebook: Elisa Boxer, journalist & author


Elizabeth Baddeley is a New York Times Bestselling and award-winning illustrator of I Dissent: Ruth Bader Ginsburg Makes Her Mark. She has illustrated many other biographies and non-fiction books for children including: The Fastest Girl on Earth (Knopf), Grace Banker and Her Hello Girls Answer the Call (Calkins Creek), Leave is to Abigail (Little Brown), An Inconvenient Alphabet (Simon & Schuster) and more!

In addition to her work in publishing, she has also created illustrations for The State of Missouri, The New York Times, Hallmark, St. Louis Children’s Hospital, Sarah Lawrence College, Notre Dame Magazine, and Deloitte. Career highlights include winning a gold medal from the Society of Illustrators for her sequential work “Swimmer Girls” and being the guest of Ruth Bader Ginsburg for a Supreme Court session in 2019. She lives in Kansas City with her husband and son.

For picture book inquiries please contact Alexandra Penfold at Upstart Crow Literary:

Elisa, thank you for sharing your book and journey with us. There is so much to love about your book. First you bring us a story of a young girl in the early 1900’s who is struggling to walk after having Polio. Her Doctor tells her swimming might help. She doesn’t see how she can swim when she can hardly walk. I love how you repeated the refrain of: The water held her. Lifted her up. Carried her. If felt like flying. It felt like Freedom. It felt like home. Kids will enjoy that, too.

I love how she scandalized everyone by taking off her socks to swim and got arrested. It reminded me of women taking off their bras in the 70’s and getting arrested. I love that you found a little known noteworthy woman who was the first American female to win an Olympic Gold Medal and goes on to set three world swimming records at the 1920 Olympics and walks away with three Gold Medals. Everyone, will need to read the book to joy the other things Ethelda does, but I love that later in life she becomes and nurse and helps children to over come ailments with water therapy. She definitely, is a great role model for children. 

Then Elizabeth comes along and creates such wonderful illustrations that you feel like you are taking every stroke with Ethelda. The illustrations are the icing on the cake. Beatiful book all around. Good luck with it.

Talk tomorrow,



  1. This whole story just swims off the page. And it swam into my heart. I love bringing the spotlight to people who made a choice and overcame…their challenge. I look forward to sharing this book with librarians and friends. The verse and illustrations have heart.


  2. I enjoyed the book launch story and how this author made the best and more out of the supply chain issue. This book will be inspiring to read and I can’t wait. I’m an email subscriber and shared on Facebook, Twitter, tumblr, and Pinterest.


  3. Thanks to EB and EB for bringing EB’s story to life! (I just think that’s pretty neat!)
    Subscriber & retweeter 😊


  4. Elisa and Elizabeth–congrats on this new book! I can’t wait to read the full story and share it with my students!


  5. This book looks inspiring and beautiful! I can’t wait to read it!! Congratulations Elisa and Elizabeth on your amazing book!


  6. Inspiring! I’m always fascinated by stories with polio involved having grown up with a cousin who survived one of the worst cases in Chicago just before the vaccine was available. Congratulations on your book!


  7. Congratulations, Elisa, on another wonderful book! I especially love the reactions of the kids for your launch! What a joy and what a wonderful message to demonstrate while sharing your book.


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