Summer Lifeguards

Sourcebooks. (Summer Lifeguards: Bk. 1). May 2021. 224p. pap. $7.99. ISBN 9781728221229.
Gr 3-6–“What matters to you?” When their teacher assigns this question, Jenna, Selena, Piper, and Ziggy already know the answer. Swim team! Fame! A house! A normal parent! Yet when a hurricane threatens their Cape Cod community, the girls put their wants aside and take action by caring for horses, volunteering at shelters, housing evacuees, and delivering food to the elderly. As a result of working through a crisis, the girls realize that maybe what they thought mattered actually doesn’t at all. Selena’s family is Ecuadorian (clichéd Spanish expressions such as Díos mio are used repeatedly), and the rest of the main characters are white. A minor character, Samantha, who is Somalian and Israeli, speaks with a generic British accent and has “learning differences.” Another minor character, Franny, is autistic, which Jenna mistakes for a competitive spirit. Franny’s parents speak for her almost entirely; the character says just one word. The title is misleading; though the girls are inspired by lifeguards, they do not become lifeguards in this book. Although there are some suspenseful moments, the story remains upbeat throughout. All damage is minor, and no one is hurt. Jenna, Selena, Piper, and Ziggy are all likable, independent characters who have an infectious, can-do attitude.
VERDICT A feel-good series opener that could have mass appeal in spite of its flaws.

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