Kathrine Switzer, the first woman to run the Boston Marathon as an officially registered runner, is highlighted in this debut for both author and illustrator.
Each time she races past the tree in her backyard, 12-year-old Kathrine marks its trunk with chalk to record her laps. “One lap to go…just a few more feet…a few steps…1 MILE!” Though she’s proud of her accomplishment, other people stare or wonder if something is wrong, because girls aren’t supposed to sport. But for Kathrine, “running [is] magic.” As she grows up, she continues to challenge her physical limits. Yet despite her running prowess, society still believes women are “too weak, too fragile,” to compete. However, no rules bar women from running the Boston Marathon, so Switzer signs up for the race. As if training weren’t difficult enough, what Switzer encounters during the 26.2 miles will take more than passion and endurance for her to finish. Readers eager to chase down biographies that feel like stories will appreciate how this book achieves that expectation. Chaffee’s text balances thorough research with strong prose that breaks through the wall that stops some nonfiction in its tracks. Additionally, Rooney’s collagelike paint, paper, and pencil illustrations are rich in texture and vibrant in color, capturing both the motion of running and emotion of persevering. They include some people of color to background the mostly white primary cast.
Fearless indeed. A biography that goes the distance! (author’s note, women and the Boston Marathon, bibliography) (Picture book/biography. 6-12)