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Saturday, October 5, 2019

Book Review: Mighty Moe: The True Story of a Thirteen-Year-Old Running Revolutionary (Little Mo) by Rachel Swaby, and Kit Fox

Last year I listened to a fascinating podcast about Moe Wilton that really annoyed me when it was over, it was so good. Turns out this editor also did because he reached out to the podcasters who expanded their research and storytelling into this terrific biography of Mighty Moe.

In 1967, Moe was thirteen years old when she broke the world record for the women's marathon. At this time women often had to run surreptitiously (she ran alongside Kathrine Switzer) if we could run at all, for men thought our uteruses would fall out if we ran any distance.

Moe just loved running. She started to keep up with her brothers and despite her height and being younger, she quickly outran them. Her parents were endlessly supportive, finding her a team and a coach and going to great lengths to get her to meets across Canada. Once her coach hired a private plane and her father raced her and other girls across town to fly directly from one meet to another across the country. Moe ran and ran and ran. It was beautiful, impressive, even intimidating. And then she ran herself out. The best runner of her generation was completely burnt out before she was twenty and quit and sport. Decades later, her own daughter asked her grandmother if her mother had ever run. Moe's mother said she'd better ask her herself. Luckily Moe's mother also had kept exhaustive scrapbooks.

What an achievement! And yet for decades afterwards it was unheralded and completely forgotten. And it wasn't an easy race either--there weren't fuel stations and a band every mile. It was around a square, over and over, on a college campus, with giant older men. And yet, she outran all of them. At thirteen. I think this book would be impressive and inspiring for many kids this age showing that diligence and effort pays off. And how often do kids get to read a biography of a kid? Hey, if Moe can do it, anyone can, if they put their mind (and body!) to it.

This review is a part of Kid Konnection, hosted by Booking Mama, a collection of children's book-related posts over the weekend.

This book is published by Farrar Straus and Giroux Books for Young Readers, a division of Macmillan, my employer.

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