July 20, 2017

The Quickest Kid in Clarksville by Pat Zietlow Miller, illustrated by Frank Morrison

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , at 6:38 am by suebe2

TThe quickest kid in clarksvillehe Quickest Kid in Clarksville
by Pat Zietlow Miller
illustrated by Frank Morrison
Chronicle Books

In Clarksville, Tennessee in the 1960, a group of girls are determined to be the next Wilma Rudolph.  Alta is dreaming about what it would feel like to wear Gold medals and have a parade just like the one set to welcome Wilma home the next day.

Then she meets the new girl.  Charmaine’s shoes have a fast pink stripe.  And they’re new.  So new that Alta knows that no one but Charmaine has ever worn them. But Alta’s having none of it and soon she and Charmaine are racing down the sidewalk. Alta wins the first race but in the second race her feet tangle and she takes a spill.

Alta and her sisters are ready to run their banner to the parade but Alta soon realizes she has a problem.  The banner is bulky and she can’t do it on her own. But her sisters are awfully small.

Then Charmaine grabs the other end.  She points out that Wilma won the relay with three other runners.   The four take off running and pass the banner back and forth.  Soon they are perched on the curb waiting for that special convertible to pass by.  When Wilma waves at them, they know that together they are the quickest kids in Clarksville.

This is a fast-moving text as befits a book about a fast moving woman.  The girls are oh-so realistic, competing to be the fastest and save the day.  But their joy at working together is just as realistic.  Frank Morrison’s water color illustrations are full of life and personality, just like the kids he depicts.  I may not have been in gradeschool in the 1960s but Alta reminded me of the quickest girl in my fifth grade class.  Charmaine could sail around the track like everone else was at anchor.

Read this to launch a discussion about team work, sportsmanship, or Wilma Rudolph.  It has all of the qualities of a sure-fire read aloud and young character who is hard not to love.



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