The Quickest Kid in Clarksville by Pat Zietlow Miller. Illustrated by Frank Morrison. Chronicle, 2016
Alta prides herself on being the fastest runner in Clarksville, Tennessee, hometown of Olympic star Wilma Rudolph. But Charmaine, of the new-shoes-just-like-Wilma’s, is fast, too. She may be even faster than Alta, although it’s hard to say: Alta is sure Charmaine tripped her when she won the race between them. Alta ended up with a hole in her sneaker. “Oh, baby girl,” says Mama. “Those shoes have to last.” On the day of a parade for Wilma Rudolph, Alta and her friends Dee-Dee and Little Mo make a huge banner, but getting the banner all the way to the parade isn’t easy, and time is running out. Then Charmaine shows up and suggests they take turns carrying it–a relay, just like Wilma ran for one of her medals. “Three people ran it with her, you know,” Charmaine says. “I hate to admit it, but she’s right.” A spirited story set in 1960 ends with an author’s note featuring a photograph of Wilma Rudolph at the real parade held in her honor in Clarksville. The energetic illustrations are full of movement and feeling. ©2016 Cooperative Children’s Book Center
Start some conversation with these discussion prompts:
- If you were going to try out for the Olympics, what event would you choose?
- How and why does the relationship between Alta and the new girl change?
- How do the girls see Wilma Rudolph as a role model? How does she inspire them?
- “Shoes don’t matter. Not as long as we’ve got our feet.” — Do you agree or disagree with this quote?
- What role does the setting play in the story?