This 72 page graphic novel features a female Muslim protagonist trying to balance her desire to be a great cross country runner and the rest of her life. Meant for 3rd graders, the lessons are applicable and relevant for readers in middle school as well.
Nimo Mohamed has made the varsity track team, and is determined to keep up with the older girls. She is training too hard which her coaches and parents warn her against, but she doesn’t listen. As a result she is lying to her family about what she is doing, her grades are suffering, and her body is exhausted to say the least. After coming dead last in a meet, getting a D on an English test, and injuring her knee, the truth comes out and her dad has her quit the team. Can she convince him to give her one more chance? Can she learn to pace herself?
WHY I LIKE IT:
There is nothing Islamic in the book except for the main character’s family. The women wear hijab when out, not at home and they have Islamic sounding names. I like that she is modestly dressed when she runs and that no one seems to care that she is Muslim. This story is not about her faith, it is a universal story of balance, and the character highlighting the moral is Muslim. Her parents are divorced, but are on the same page regarding her running and school balancing act, and they come together to support her. I also like that the book is a sports book and has a female girl of color as the lead. There is a lot of very intentional diversity in the book and it is refreshing to see.
There are questions at the end, and running vocabulary and tips for running as well.
TOOLS FOR LEADING THE DISCUSSION:
The book wouldn’t lend itself well to a book club, but would definitely provide one-on-one discussion opportunities. The short linear story is all about imparting teachable moments on the reader, which isn’t a bad thing, but I think the real strength is that the book is one of a larger series that should really be in every classroom and library to show how balance and integrity and strength and diversity are values that we need to hear over and over, not just in one running book, but from a lot of different sources.