We are delighted to join the Nonfiction Picture Book meme 2019 hosted by Alyson Beecher @ Kid Lit Frenzy. We would also be linking our nonfiction choices with our reading themes throughout the year, when we can.
Girl Running: Bobbi Gibb And The Boston Marathon
Written by Annette Bay Pimentel Illustrated by Micha Archer
Published by Nancy Paulsen Books (2018).
ISBN: 1101996684 (ISBN13: 9781101996683)
Borrowed from the Jurong West Public Library. Book photos taken by me.
I learned about Bobbi Gibb through another picturebook biography that I reviewed last year (see here):
Girl Running was published a year later and provided me with a few other interesting tidbits that I did not know about previously. Whereas the first book gave more information about the family’s reaction to Bobbi’s intention to join the Boston Marathon Race, Pimentel and Archer’s version focused more on Bobbi and her single-minded pursuit to join a race that she was initially barred from entering – by virtue of her gender.
The image above shows just how women were perceived in the early 50s and 60s: the stringent societal expectations as regards how women should appear and behave – strictures that now seem arbitrary and utterly confining. The fact that Bobbi Gibb was able to reinvent herself and change the course of sports history is a clear testament that this is a perfect book to feature given our current reading theme.
The reason provided by the officials of the Boston Marathon demonstrates an ignorance of women’s physiological make-up, and worse, a refusal to investigate empirically whether or not what they are officially writing down as a reason is grounded on research evidence of female anatomy and physical capability.
While I am perfectly aware how this story ends – my heart was racing as I flipped through the pages, the sense of injustice acute. I cheered internally for Bobbi as she refuses to accept this decision grounded on sexism, as she simply ran and ran and ran, her feet bleeding with her new pair of running shoes; and the other men in the race rooting for her and encouraging her to remove her jacket that helped camouflage the fact that she is a girl running.
This is a remarkable story that clearly demonstrates persistence, grit, and a not-receiving-no-for-an-answer attitude that most girls should definitely possess – especially in a world that continues to say no to them again and again, simply because they are a girl.