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THE FIRST MARATHON by Susan Reynolds


The Legend of Pheidippides

by Susan Reynolds & illustrated by Daniel Minter

Age Range: 7 - 9

Pub Date: March 1st, 2006
ISBN: 0-8075-0867-5
Publisher: Whitman

Reynolds, a distance walker herself, spins detail around skimpy Classical sources to create a tale in tribute to every marathoner’s hero. Unfortunately, however impressive Pheidippides’s achievement may have been—he ran 140 miles to Sparta to beg for help against the invading Persians, ran back to fight in the battle of Marathon, then ran about 25 miles to Athens to report the victory, before dying of exhaustion—this rendition of it never rises above the pedestrian. Minter’s static, amateurishly drawn figures are paired to lines like, “But Pheidippides would just laugh and run in circles so that he could stay close to his mother but still get to run.” Reynolds closes with a detailed source note and a brief history of the modern marathon—not enough to carry this, or readers, much past the starting line. (Picture book/nonfiction. 7-9)