By Elizabeth Wroten
Picture Book Review: The Quickest Kid in Clarksville by Pat Zietlow Miller
On 29, Jun 2016 | In Review | By Elizabeth Wroten
From Goodreads: It’s the day before the big parade. Alta can only think about one thing: Wilma Rudolph, three-time Olympic gold medalist. She’ll be riding on a float tomorrow. See, Alta is the quickest kid in Clarksville, Tennessee, just like Wilma once was. It doesn’t matter that Alta’s shoes have holes because Wilma came from hard times, too. But what happens when a new girl with shiny new shoes comes along and challenges Alta to a race? Will she still be the quickest kid?
So, I don’t really have many runners that I’m aware of in my library. We have several biographies of famous runners, including Willa Rudolph and Jesse Owens, but I haven’t gotten any of the kids to pick them up. Which means that may not be the best selling point for this book. At least not in my library. Fortunately the story is more about competition and friendship, finding a common interest and working together. I suspect this is the kind of book that a handful of kids would pick up off the shelf and take home.
I really love the illustrations of the little girls. They have these long athletic legs that really emphasize the running theme. And Morrison totally captured their facial expressions, body language (look at Alta on the cover!), and their motion. The girls completely come to life on the page and for the casual browser that’s going to be a point in the book’s favor. Again, it lends itself to being picked up off the shelf and making the cut.
As far as the deeper meaning in the story, the one about working together and making friends, makes this a great story to share at the beginning of the school year when we’re getting back into the swing of having lots of kids around. Or around Valentine’s Day when I prefer to highlight strong friendships instead of romantic love. Another great addition to all library shelves.