The Fastest Boy in the World

I need to read more by Elizabeth Laird! Whatever the subject, she makes it interesting. I mention this because in a way I wouldn’t say that a story about a small boy in Ethiopia who likes running sounds terribly exciting. But it is.

The Fastest Boy in the World builds on the experience Elizabeth has of Ethiopia, and running, and the old Emperor. In what is a pretty short book, the reader gets not only the story about an 11-year-old boy in the Ethiopian countryside who runs everywhere (because they are poor and school is five miles away, and Ethiopians like running), but some understanding of life in Ethiopia and what it takes to become a successful runner, as well as a brief history lesson on what the last few decades have been like.

That’s a lot.

Simply put, it’s about Solomon who gets to accompany his grandfather on the walk to Addis Ababa (just over 20 miles), and when they get there he makes an important discovery about the old man, just before his grandfather collapses, and Solomon has to run all the way home to tell his father what has happened.

Elizabeth Laird, The Fastest Boy in the World

This is so interesting! You learn about Ethiopian family values, and what people in this distant country are like. You get an inkling of how very important running is, and how it can become an ambition that carries a young boy into the future, because he knows what happened in the past.

It’s so lovely I could re-read it now.

Nicely classical illustrations by Peter Bailey.


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