Fig Swims the World

Fig Swims the World

Fig Swims the World
Lou Abercrombie

Stripes Publishing

ISBN 9781788951531

Fig Fitzsherbert is good at a lot of things: making lists, playing the piano, advanced mathematics. But it's never quite enough for her high-flying mother, who every New Year's Day sets Fig an impossible resolution. So one year, Fig decides to set her own challenge instead: she's going to swim her way round the world. There's just one tiny problem ... Fig can't swim. Taking it one length at a time, Fig embarks on the adventure of a lifetime. But with her mother closing in, will she be able to keep her head above water and complete her challenge? A quirky coming-of-age story, perfect for fans of Katy Birchall, GEEK GIRL and SUPER AWKWARD.

Librarian's Book choice

Fifteen-year-old Fig Fitzsherbet is good at a lot of things; maths and making lists being top of those achievements. Fig's mother, however, does not think she is good at anything and is constantly pushing and bullying her into things Fig does not want to do. Setting Fig the New Year's resolution of acting, which Fig really does not want to do, Fig retaliates by setting her own resolution, to swim the world. The only problem is that Fig can't swim.

This is not the sort of book I would have picked up to read ordinarily, but I am so glad I did. Fig is so delightful, and her adventures learning to swim and then trying to achieve her resolution are so interesting - even for a very unkeen swimmer like myself! Fig's friends are sympathetically drawn, her best friend Stella and the Old Mare Mermaids who teach her to overcome her fears. Her mother is quite awful, domineering and bullying and overshadowing Fig's life throughout the book. In addition to her mother, Fig also has to face name calling and bullying at school.

The story is told with the addition of lists, tables and charts and even Instagram messages and it is an uplifting one, coming of age in a really big way, by swimming the world. Even though it is about a 15-year-old, it is still appropriate for upper Key Stage 2 as there is nothing in it that would be unsuitable for that age group. As it touches on the subject of name calling and how hurtful it can be, it would be useful to use with a class for a discussion about bullying.

This is Lou Abercrombie's first foray into children's books and I will be looking forward to reading anything else she writes in future.

352 pages / Ages 10+ / Reviewed by Jacqueline Harris, teacher


Fig Swims the World4/5

Fig Swims the World

Lou Abercrombie


Lemony Fitzsherbert, commonly known as Fig, is very good at making lists, maths and playing the piano. She is also very good at worrying. Every New Year, her high-powered mother sets her a resolution. This year, it's acting classes, but Fig has decided to set her own goal. She's going to swim her way round the world, undeterred by the fact that she can't swim, Fig embarks on the adventure of a lifetime. But will she be able to complete her challenge before her mother catches up with her?

Enjoyable from the first page to the last, Fig Swims the World is a brilliant read, full of humour and spirit. Fig is a wonderful character. Not only does she take on the challenge of learning to swim, she has to escape her over-powering mother and organise the details of the trip, facing her many worries on the way. As her plan evolves and she conquers one fear after another, her confidence grows and she is better able to deal with life in general and her mother in particular.

There are many wonderful characters in this story, not least Sage and Myrtle, members of The Old Mare Mermaids, a local swimming group. These lovely old ladies with their cake eating and words of wisdom are a real joy and add some poignant moments to the story. I love the way they introduce Fig, Stella (her best friend) and Jago (Fig's little brother) to Countdown which they all enjoy. It's the simple things we can all share.

A wonderful story with much to enjoy, Fig Swims the World is one to add to your to-be-read list.

352 pages / Ages 12+ / Reviewed by Sue Wilsher, teacher

Reviewed by: Sue Wilsher