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4.6 out of 5 stars18
4.6 out of 5 stars
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TOP 100 REVIEWERon 29 March 2015
4.5 stars

A short novel that manages to incorporate running, the Olympics, Ethiopian history, poverty, and a family mystery in less than 200 pages. Which at times means it feels a little rushed, but I still felt it was an exciting story for the age group that isn't too difficult a read for even 7--8 year old new readers.

Solomon lives in a small village in Ethiopia, miles from the nearest big town, with his parents, sisters and grandfather on their farm. He runs every day to school - five miles each way, and dreams about becoming an athlete, like his heroes, currently off winning medals at the Olympics. Out of the blue, his grandfather one day tells him he will take him to the capital the next day, now he is eleven and old enough. They don't have a lot of money and so will walk the twenty miles. After a long journey, and after meeting some rather reluctant family members, Solomon's grandfather is taken ill, after he reveals to Solomon some surprising facts about his own history. In the midst of the Olympic athletes triumphant parade, Solomon must decide how to get home to tell his parents about the illness. The bus home is liable to break down - can he run all that way?

It's a pacy story, a lot happens with no let-up. It all does fit into the short running length and satisfactorily.

It's also an insight into Ethiopian life, both in the villages and the larger towns/cities, which teachers will find useful for lesson plans. The mystery of Grandfather's story is fascinating, and hints at dark times in the past without needing to show us detail. Solomon is an appealing hero, brave and honest and a good, dutiful grandson.

It did feel a little rushed at times, but I did feel the plot elements came together well and that children reading will enjoy the story. It's one for primary-aged children and would make a great class reader with its short chapters, lots of discussion points and a protagonist they will root for.
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on 22 August 2014
This amazing book is about a boy who lives in Ethiopia his has been running all his life and has always wanted to run in the Olympics with the Ethiopian champions.

Elizabeth Laird has turned this book into a masterpiece great emotion, description and plot.
I would recommend this book for 8+

Age 10
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on 7 August 2015
Better than I expected. Short and full of action, so it's very suitable for children aged around 9-13. It's reminiscent of Beverley Naidoo's "Journey to Jo'burg", but a bit less intense. One of the best things is that it skilfully combats the impression of Africa as one undifferentiated mass of poverty: the country village with its simple lifestyle is well contrasted with the city-dwellers and their mobile phones and motor vehicles.
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on 11 May 2015
A lovely story about a boy-runner in Ethiopia - I think recommended for 10+ but it could also accessible for a younger audience (8) with a story setting that might be unfamiliar to that audience.
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on 24 March 2015
I'm afraid to say this book has disappointed me, particularly as a shortlisted novel for the Carnegie Medal. I find it a perfectly ordinary story, told in a perfectly ordinary, and utterly predictable way.

Young Solomon, who is growing up in Ethiopia, has always run and his heroes and heroines are the famous long distance runner Haile Gabrselasie and a female runner whose name I don't recall. Solomon and his grandfather walk the 20 miles from his village to Addis Ababa, and not at all surprisingly, the frail grandfather falls ill and Solomon runs all the way back to the village to fetch his father, just in time to witness grandfather's last words. The story finishes with a grown up Solomon having become a long distance runner who has won some medals.

Other than 'you can achieve anything if you dream' I can't see any other message in the book and there are so many other books that convey that message in a far more interesting and moving way. I felt nothing for Solomon who couldn't have been more predictable. Sorry, but I had hoped for better in a Carnegie shortlisted book.
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on 13 April 2015
A tale that will show children another world - yet a believable one. The main character is rounded and keeps you with him. A somewhat abrupt ending would be my only slight criticism, though it did not spoil my enjoyment of a super story.
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on 26 April 2015
9 year old grandson took to it straight away, having been on a 'diet' of Diary of a Wimpy Kid since
Christmas, and was ready for something perhaps more thought provoking. A bit of a shot in the dark for me - but it came off!!
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on 12 March 2016
Good to see a 'boys' book included with the Carnegie tities. A lovely read with super illustrations, which satisfyingly fill the page in a sumptuous manner. One to enjoy reading to others and read alone.
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on 22 July 2015
This was a brilliant book, I loved it. My favourite part was when Solomon beat the bus home even though it broke down a few times. Read this book if you like adventure and amazing stories.
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on 28 April 2015
An original and thoughtful story for younger readers. The narrative moves quickly and the characters, as well as the unfamiliar Ethiopian setting, draw the reader in.
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