Monday, July 31, 2017

Long-Armed Ludy and the First Women's Olympics

Long-Armed Ludy
written by Jean L.S. Patrick; illustrated by Adam Gustavson
2017 (Charlesbridge)
Source: Review book provided by the publisher

Her heart boomed. Her long arm tingled. She loved the explosion of power

Lucile "Ludy" Godbold had long arms. Really long arms. It might have been from swinging on a tree branch with her siblings attached to her legs. Six feet tall when she enrolled in college, she stood out among her teammates in 1917. One of her sports was track and field. Urged on by her coach, she tried the shot put in her final collegiate season. Launching the metal ball, she sent it almost as far as three automobiles. Ludy had found a new favorite event. Her determined training paid off with an American record and an opportunity in New York to compete for a spot in the first Women's Olympics. Not intimidated, Ludy broke her own shot put record. She was so excited she yelled "Ooh la la!" Happiness soon turned to resignation as Ludy realized she didn't have the money to go the games in Paris. Inspired by over one thousand people greeting her upon return to college, Ludy continued training harder than ever before. When the president of Winthrop College told her that her fellow students and teachers were donating money for her trip, she vowed to win "for everyone helping me." She had to adjust her workouts as she would have to throw with each arm in the Paris competition.  Facing the world record holder from France, Ludy catapulted the shot put for a new world record and the win.

Having grown up in North Carolina, I love the colloquialisms in this book. Ludy was "skinnier than a Carolina pine." She threw until "her arms turned to noodles." The language will fit well with a unit on figurative language. I would definitely encourage one or more students to research Ludy's life for a biography unit/wax museum. She's a great example of determination. You could use tin foil for a shotput! One final idea would be to use Long Armed Ludy for working on comparing and contrasting. You could find images/videos of female shot putters today and compare uniforms, throwing styles, and training. I would be remiss if I didn't mention the example of kindness shown by Ludy's peers and teachers. That's a great model for students working in their own classes. I also really like the artwork. It does a wonderful job of evoking the time period. You'll want to go to great lengths to find a copy of this engaging picture book biography.


  1. This sounds terrific, is a new book and story for me. Thanks for the good review!