Caterpillars Can't Swim

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Two boys look to the water for escape, but for very different reasons.

Ryan, who uses a wheelchair, is at his most confident when he's in the water. When he rescues his schoolmate, Jack, from drowning their lives become connected, whether they like it or not. Ryan keeps Jack's secret about that day in the water, but he knows that Jack needs help. The school is full of rumors about Jack's sexuality, and he has few friends. When Ryan decides to invite Jack on a trip to Comic Con he's planned with his best friend Cody, the captain of the school's swim team, the three boys make an unlikely combination. But they will each have the chance to show whether they are brave enough to go against the stereotypes the world tries to define them by.

Praise & Recognition

This is a strong addition to the canon of literature in Canada that works within realms of sexual diversity and disability. A thought-provoking and compelling narrative that teenage fans of character-driven books will definitely enjoy. Canadian Review of Materials
In Caterpillars Can’t Swim, [Liane Shaw] examines the prejudices people exert on those who are different – whether those differences are perceived or real – and crafts a plot that ensures understanding and acceptance.... By casting Ryan, whose cerebral palsy defines him for so many, in the role of hero, Shaw changes up the expected narrative. Quill & Quire
Shaw has written a compassionate, well-crafted story about two boys dealing bravely with challenges and finding support in friendship. Booklist
Caterpillars Can’t Swim is an encouraging story about what’s possible if teens choose to accept the people around them. Foreword Reviews

The Rainbow Book List 2019 - Commended

Canadian Children's Book Centre's Best Books for Kids and Teens Selection 2018 - Commended

Outstanding Books for Young People with Disabilities – IBBY Canada List 2019 - Commended


Publication Date: September 12, 2017

Reading Age: 13 - 19

Genre: Teen, Children's Fiction

Product Format: Paperback

Pages: 256

ISBN: 978-1-77260-053-7

Liane Shaw

About the Author

Liane Shaw

Liane Shaw is the author of three novels for teens:, Fostergirls, and The Color of Silence. This is her first work of nonfiction. Liane was an educator for more than 20 years, both in the classroom and as a special education resource teacher. She spent several years working with students with behavioral and emotional issues. She was later hired as a consultant to help teachers and principals deal with students with special challenges. Now retired from teaching, Liane lives with her family in the Ottawa Valley.
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