The Quickest Kid in Clarksville
written by Pat Zietlow Miller; illustrated by Frank Morrison
2016 (Chronicle Books)
Source: Orange County Public Library
We crouch low. Dee-Dee and Little Mo count down, and we're off. My sneakers slap a sidewalk beat. Wil-ma Ru-dolph. Wil-ma Ru-dolph.
Alta has no doubt that she is the quickest kid in Clarksville, Tennessee. She is imagining wearing three gold medals like her hometown hero Wilma Rudolph. With a parade honoring Rudolph the next day, Alta is super excited. Until Charmaine arrives on the scene. Wearing brand new shoes with racing stripes and bright laces, Charmaine is a force to be reckoned with. Even without new shoes, Alta is not surrendering her sprinting title to anyone. She points to a mailbox and challenges her new opponent to a race. It's close, but Alta defeats her rival and is celebrating when Charmaine announces another race. This time, Alta almost catches her before stumbling and losing the race. Alta protests that she was tripped, but Charmaine deflects her rebuke by saying Alta came into her lane. These young ladies are well versed in their track and field knowledge. The next day, Alta and her two friends are sitting on a porch with a big banner for the parade. Charmaine confidently walks by, which gets Alta into gear. Problem is, the banner is too big for the trio to get to the parade in time. Alta hears fast footsteps and suddenly her rival has grabbed an end of the banner. Except she isn't a rival anymore. Now we have the fastest relay in Clarksville!
What a great book to use for talking about teamwork! This is a book that you want to read to build a classroom culture around supporting one another. Plus, it introduces students to one of the greatest track and field athletes in history. That's a win-win. I also like the confidence that is shown by Alta and Charmaine. They believe in themselves and that's good role modeling for any kid. Frank Morrison's artwork stands out as well. I love his drawing of the girls racing around a corner with the banner. There's also a terrific author's note about Wilma Rudolph at the end. The Quickest Kid in Clarksville is a worthy winner of a book.