Robert’s cousin Megan bought Thunderfoot the book The Girl Who Ran by Frances Poletti and Kristina Yee, back in August. When I first saw the book I thought well that is so appropriate, a children’s book about running. Then I realized it was about Bobbi Gibb, the first woman to run the Boston Marathon (although she technically was not allowed to do so). After reading the book to Ellie I can honestly say as a mother, runner, history lover, and female I think this is an amazing book to read to any child, but even more so if you are a runner parent and hope to share that passion with your children!
So obviously this is a children’s book so the review is not going to be as long as it normally would be. I do want to point out that the book itself is beautifully illustrated with a water color feel. The literacy degree in me must point out that it also has some repetitive phrases in it to help children learn those words. I also loved the placement of the words on the page in relation to the illustrations (I am sure there is some type of official term for that I am failing to employ at the moment). The story itself explains Bobbi’s journey from a little girl who liked to run all the way through her completion of the Boston Marathon in 1966. It explains why people did not think women should run the marathon and the adversity she had to overcome in a simplistic manner that is accessible to children, exemplifying the grit long distance running requires. The last part of the book provides a biography of Bobbi Gibb as well as a timeline of the history of the Boston Marathon, which really makes the history lover in me happy.
I am so happy Ellie has this book to inspire her not only as a runner, but as a female. As a female athlete I think I spent a lot of time growing up trying to prove that I was better than the boys around me. As hard as I tried, it is difficult to compare in other sports for a myriad of reasons- the rules are different, equipment is different, the expectation is different of what should be allowed (I am thinking of referees who do not think girls’ basketball should be as physical as boys’). Running is different though. I can go out on the same starting line as any man, run the exact same course under the exact same conditions and see plain and simple who is better at our sport. The hills treat us the same no matter our gender. I can honestly say I get way more satisfaction when I pass a man on course rather than a female. Running allows the competition to be measured simply and honestly- the better athlete that day crosses the finish line first. There is a beautiful simplicity in that.
I recommend this book for any child to see that barriers can and should be overcome with hard work, perseverance, and a little help from those around you. I strongly recommend it as a present for the child of runners- they will absolutely love reading this book to their child and sharing their passions with their little one. Runners have a special place in their hearts for Boston and this book reflects the esteem associated with that race in a way a child can understand.
It definitely earned 5 stars in my book!