Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

The Girl Who Ran: Bobbi Gibb, The First Woman to Run the Boston Marathon

The Girl Who Ran: Bobbi Gibb, The First Woman to Run the Boston Marathon

Frances Poletti, Kristina Yee
Illustrator:  Susanna Chapman 
Nonfiction Picture Book
For ages 5 to 7
Compendium Inc, 2017   ISBN: 978-1943200474

Like many young children, Bobbi loved to run. She ran everywhere and her “feet flew across the earth.” When they grew up, Bobbi’s friends stopped running, but Bobbi did not. She kept on running because she could not bear to be still. For Bobbi, running gave her joy and so she kept at it.

One day Bobbi’s father took his now adult daughter to Boston and there she saw hundreds of men running in the Boston Marathon. How wonderful it would be to participate in such an event, she thought. Bobbi shared her desire to run in the race with her parents, who immediately made it clear that they did not approve of her idea, nor did they think that she should even consider participating.

It turned out that Bobbi’s parents were not the only ones who did not think women could or should run in long races. Bobbi’s application to participate in the Boston Marathon was rejected. The members of the Boston Athletic Association told her that women could not run long distances. Apparently they thought that women were not capable of such a feat. Bobbi had trained and trained and she knew that she could do the race, and so she decided that she would participate anyway. If the organizers would not let her run because she was a woman, then she would do so disguised as a man.

On race day Bobbi’s mother drove her to the starting line. Bobbi warmed up and then found a place to hide. When the starting gun went off Bobbi jumped out from her hiding place and began to run.

In this day and age it is hard for us to imagine that not so long ago, in 1966, a woman was told that women are not capable of running in a marathon. Some people even believed that Bobbi Gibb was mentally ill because she wanted to participate in the Boston Marathon. Thankfully for hundreds of women runners, Bobbi Gibb refused to be denied and she ran anyway.

In this inspirational book a wonderful text and atmospheric art are brought together to tell the true story of a woman who had wings on her feet and courage in her heart.

At the back of the book readers will find further information about Bobbi Gibb. There is also a timeline showing important dates in the history of the Boston Marathon, and landmark moments in the history of long distance women runners.