Julian, John, and other members of the Atlantic cross country team are under a lot of pressure from their legendary coach (who has coached for a very long time) to be as great as his other teams. While they do fairly well, they all have their own personal issues to deal with. When Julian is killed in a car crash, John, who is the most promising runner, falls apart. He starts drinking, missing runs, and generally wallowing in his grief instead of concentrating on running, as Julian had done. Eventually, John realizes that Julian would want his to try to win the championship, and steps up to help his teammates win in Julian's honor.
Strengths: Fabulous cover and title. This review is so brief because I checked out the book to one of my runners on the first day-- he was going to wait, but when he saw this, wanted it immediately. Lots of good descriptions of the areas where the team runs, the weather (which I realized is crucial to a cross country book!), and running.
Weaknesses: While some of the writing is really good and descriptive, some is very flat. I never connected with any of the children, and John's grief was never palpable. This is based on the author's own high school experience, so I expected something more gut wrenchingly effective.
Loughead, Deb. Just Run.
1 September 2011, James Lorimer and Company
Daisy loves to run track, but her everyday life keeps getting in the way. Her father has lost his job and spends all day on the computer. Her mother is working double shifts as a nurse, so Daisy has to take care of her younger brother after school. She wants to focus on getting her relay team ready for the city championship meet, but the boys' team is a victim of sabotage, and she starts to think that some of the girls' team might be responsible. When Daisy finds out that her father is doing a lot of online gambling, and she sees her mother having coffee with another man, she worries that her family is falling apart. Can Daisy figure out what's going on with the team, and put aside her worries about her family long enough to run a good race? Strengths: Canada puts out a lot of good high interest/low level books about sports, and this is another one. It did not feel as Canadian as other titles (such as Swan's Mud Run), and I think it will appeal to many of my readers. I love how the cover say Track &Field right at the top.
Weaknesses: Again, I'd love this to be a bigger book with larger print and more white space. Good cover photo, though, whic really helps.
Our cross country team runs its first race today at an invitational at Mt. Vernon! Wish us luck! So far, we have 48 students out for the team, which is just about capacity!
Because this blog is aimed at librarians and patrons of school libraries, I will not review books that are published solely in e-book formats or that are self published. Books should be available in hardcover or library binding through library suppliers such as Baker and Taylor or Follett. Books should fall within the target demographics of this blog.