An entire summer in the open

Because the Bukowski siblings have saved a toddler from drowning at the indoor pool, they are famous for a few days. But the entrance card for the outdoor pool, which they receive as a reward for their heroic deed, is far better than the glory: free entry throughout a long summer that will turn out special for everyone!

Alf is ten, his thoughts revolve around the change of school after the holidays, the beautiful daughter of the lifeguard and his self-imposed goal: the jump from the ten-meter board. His 8-year-old sister Katinka, snotty and unflappable, raves about Paris, learns French and practices doing the crawl for no less than 20 lanes in a row. Robbie, the youngest and the family’s darling, is different than other children, he barely talks and dreams a lot. Alf and Katinka think that he ought to learn to swim properly at last.

Will Gmehling very gently and humorously narrates how the summer at the swimming pool makes the Bukowski children grow as they boldly push themselves to their limits and even surpass themselves—not only inside the pool. And his story is invariably pervaded by this exhilarating scent of water on hot flagstones, chlorine and chips with mayonnaise …

by Will Gmehling


  • Nominated for the German Children’s Literature Award 2020
  • White Ravens 2019
  • LUCHS Award – July 2019
  • 7 Best Books for Young Readers – April 2019


“At the center of this friendly and sensitively narrated story – which is almost too good to be true, but only almost – is the everyday life of the Bukowski family. Which is a bit rough and at the same time so warm-hearted that you would immediately abandon mountains and seaside, just to join them in their three-room apartment one summer evening to eat noodles with tomato sauce and to have them telling how it was, the whole day at the outdoor pool.” – Anja Robert / DIE ZEIT


“The days come and go, are like one other, and yet each of the children goes through a development maturing with the experiences they have that summer. This happens softly and quietly, almost imperceptibly, and that’s why it’s so exciting to read.” – Andrea Duphorn / Buch & Maus


“What makes this book stand out is above all the scrutiny of the narrator for details, atmosphere and the really unspeakable.”Klaus Nowak / DIE FURCHE


“A summer story with a lot of humor and just as much feeling.” –  7 Best Books / Deutschlandfunk


Peter Hammer Verlag | hc | 160 pp | 2019 | 10+

Rights sold: Greek

English sample translation (c) Litrix

English review

[original title: Freibad]