NONFICTION

Fauja Singh Keeps Going: The True Story of the Oldest Person To Ever Run a Marathon

Penguin/Kokila. Aug. 2020. 48p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780525555094.
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Gr 1-4–This engaging picture book biography tells the amazing story of a 100-year-old marathoner named Fauja Singh. Born in India, Singh could not walk until his fifth birthday and endured many other challenges in his long life. When people doubted him, he kept going. The book uses that determination, along with his mother’s unfailing encouragement, as the theme for his achievements. He grew into a healthy and active adult, with a family and a farm. A move to England at age 81 led to his emergence as a runner and his eventual record-setting accomplishments. The book’s language is appropriately inspirational, but also highlights the setbacks that Singh faced involving injuries, self-doubt, and racism. Slightly awkward wording disrupts the narrative flow a couple of times, but Singh’s story is unique and engaging, especially during the second half. Softly rendered illustrations effectively depict the various parts of the runner’s life; expressive faces and figures deftly convey movement and emotions. Recurring images of kites and birds reflect his indomitable spirit. Details of food, clothing, and hairstyles add spiritual and cultural context.
VERDICT A fine addition to picture book biography collections, with an inspirational message and strong cultural content.

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