On a summer day in 1932, twelve-year-old Sammy Lee watched enviously as divers catapulted into the public swimming pool. Sammy desperately wanted to try diving himself, but the Korean American boy like any person of color was only allowed to use the pool one day a week.
This discrimination did not weaken Sammy’s newfound passion for diving, and soon he began a struggle between his dream of becoming an Olympic champion and his father’s wish for him to become a doctor. Over sixteen years Sammy faced numerous challenges, but he overcame them all and fulfilled both his dream and his father’s. In 1948 Dr. Sammy Lee dove into Olympic history. A matter of seconds after his final platform dive, the scores appeared and Sammy Lee became the first Asian American to win an Olympic gold medal.
Sammy Lee’s story of determination and triumph sets an extraordinary example for anyone striving to fulfill a dream. Winner of Lee & Low’s New Voices Award, Sixteen Years in Sixteen Seconds will inspire all who read it.
"Handsomely illustrated and compassionately written without sentimentality, this picture book biography exemplifies what this genre should be: humanizing and meaningful. . . . This hero’s inspirational story demonstrates determination and dedication by a man who never gave up and is still an active athlete today at the age of 84." — Children’s Reviewer, Kirkus Reviews
"The minimal, well-shaped language focuses on facts. . . . Washed in nostalgic, sepia tones, Dom Lee’s acrylic-and-wax, textured illustrations are reminiscent of his fine work in Ken Mochizuki’s watershed Baseball Saved Us (1993), and like Yoo’s understated words, the uncluttered images leave a deep impact.". — Children’s Reviewer, Booklist