Books DiverseKidLit Picture Books Reading Themes Universal Republic of Childhood

[DiverseKidLit] The Shoes of Separation and Wilma Rudolph’s Banner in “The Quickest Kid in Clarksville”

Myra here.

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Most Clicked Post from Last Time

Svenja takes “most-clicked” honors again this time with her post on 30 Multicultural Books about Immigration in honor of June as Immigrant Heritage Month. The post is divided into books geared for preschoolers and elementary students, and the elementary recommendations are further subdivided by the continent of origin. You can find more great posts by revisiting the previous linkup here.

We hope this community will grow into a great resource for parents, teachers, librarians, publishers, and authors! Our next linkup will be Saturday, 16 July.


We are about to end our reading theme this May-June: Universal Republic of Childhood. I thought it would be good to close our theme with this spunky young girl named Alta from Clarksville.


Quickest Kid in Clarksville

Written byPat Zietlow Miller Illustrated by: Frank Morrison
Published by: Chronicle Books, 2016 ISBN:1452129363 (ISBN13: 9781452129365)
Book borrowed from the Jurong West Public Library. Book photos taken by me.

Everybody knows that Alta is the fastest girl in all of Clarksville. Well, everybody, that is except for the new girl in town named Charmaine. This new kid also seemed to grate on Alta’s nerves with her sassy attitude that seems to say “she owns the sidewalk and everything on it.” Of course, it didn’t help that Charmaine just had to say that she got herself brand new shoes – perfect for running, and even more perfect for the parade welcoming Wilma Rudolph in town:


I like how this story captures how kids often put their “best foot forward” (pun very much intended), and how this comes across despite their best intentions, and how misunderstandings based on first impressions often occur quite naturally:


It will be interesting to pick the mind of young readers as to why they think Charmaine behaved the way she did; whether Alta could have done something differently to welcome the new girl more to their community or whether her actions were justified given Charmaine’s extra-strong presence. I enjoyed the subtle complexity in the narrative that was rendered justice by Morrison’s art which seemed authentic to this particular period in history: the clothing, the buildings, the very texture of the images:


This would be a great book to pair with Kathleen Krull’s Wilma Unlimited: How Wilma Rudolph Became the World’s Fastest Woman:


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Myra is a Teacher Educator and a registered clinical psychologist based in Al Ain, United Arab Emirates. Prior to moving to the Middle East, she lived for eleven years in Singapore serving as a teacher educator. She has edited five books on rediscovering children’s literature in Asia (with a focus on the Philippines, Malaysia, India, China, Japan) as part of the proceedings for the Asian Festival of Children’s Content where she served as the Chair of the Programme Committee for the Asian Children’s Writers and Illustrators Conference from 2011 until 2019. While she is an academic by day, she is a closet poet and a book hunter at heart. When she is not reading or writing about books or planning her next reads, she is hoping desperately to smash that shuttlecock to smithereens because Badminton Is Life (still looking for badminton courts here at UAE - suggestions are most welcome).

4 comments on “[DiverseKidLit] The Shoes of Separation and Wilma Rudolph’s Banner in “The Quickest Kid in Clarksville”

  1. booksbeforebandaids

    These books are very timely with the Olympics coming, they are great recommendations, thanks.


  2. What a great pick. I love to read true stories about famous people and their childhoods. Love how this story is handled and your great suggested activities for discussing the book with kids.


  3. I really enjoyed this story – it really captures the complexity of children and their interactions with each other. Emotions run so high when we’re young, and simple misunderstandings can easily become major events! But at the same time, even major feuds can often be resolved with a hug and a few words. Children are endlessly fascinating! 🙂


  4. Great #diversekidlit pairing! I love how this book tells such an important story but wrapped around the true biography of Wilma Rudolph. Very cool.


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