Pimentel tenders the story of Bobbi Gibb, the first woman to (surreptitiously) run the classic Boston Marathon, with illustrations that pay close attention to the route along the way.
Hot on the heels of Kristina Yee and Frances Poletti’s The Girl Who Ran, illustrated by Susanna Chapman (2017), is another rendering of Gibb’s saga. This time the story pivots less around Gibb’s trick to evade the officials than the sheer joy of running—it is as though Gibb is on one long runner’s high, and it’s good fun to run along with her. Readers learn that Gibb trained in nurse’s shoes, making “her feet feel weightless” when she bought proper running shoes (boys’ size six, as there are none for “girls”). Once she was in the race and doffed her sweatshirt to avoid heat exhaustion, she was cheered on by all but the most curmudgeonly marathon watchers. Archer provides the landscape through which the blonde white woman trains and then the marathon path itself. Her artwork is an eyeful, a deep-dish mixture of oil paint and collage with tissue paper and hand-stamped patterned papers as materials. In addition, she adds mile markers and elevation notes to convey the runners’ toils and why it is called “Heartbreak Hill.” The tiny smattering of African-Americans engaged in the race and in the crowds is sad but true.
A bright salutation of a story, with one determined woman at its center. (Picture book. 4-8)