From Megan McCarthy the award-winning author of Pop! and Earmuffs for Everyone comes the quirky, fascinating, and inspiring story of perseverance and the importance of sportsmanship set at the 1904 St. Louis Olympic Marathon. It was 1904 and St. Louis was proud to host the World's Fair and America's First Olympics. Hundreds of thousands of people came by car, by train, by boat. Part of the Olympics was a wild, wacky marathon. Forty-two racers registered, thirty-two showed up, and of the three racers vying for the finish line: on drove part way, one was helped by his trainers over the line, and one was a postman who travelled from Cuba and ran in street clothes that he cut off to look like shorts. How they ran and who won is a story of twists and turns that only wouldn't be believed if it weren't true! And it is! Find out who won in this wacky and well-researched picture book all about the historic Olympic Marathon of 1904.
Grades K-3. What an accurate title! The first Olympic marathon run in America—as part of the St. Louis World’s Fair in 1904—involved everything from blistering heat to contaminated water to strychnine poisoning. And that’s to say nothing of the individual participants. McCarthy begins by introducing some of the runners, including Félix Carvajal, a Cuban mailman; Fred Lorz, a Boston bricklayer; and Jan Mashiani and Len Tau, black South Africans who were employed at the fair. Kids familiar with marathon races will see little resembling those well-orchestrated events here. Automobiles follow the runners, stirring up dirt and dust that affects the runners’ breathing. Vomiting and stomach cramps begin almost immediately, perhaps because runners were given unclean water. Carvajal decides to take an apple break under a tree. And a leading runner is given poison by his trainers. The comic effect is heightened by the art: google-eyed characters who look as askance at the goings-on as readers will. A long author’s note gives background and more of this strange-but-true (and captivating) story.