Review Blog

Jul 22 2014

Running on a Patchwork of Earth by Jonny Zucker

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Bloomsbury, 2014. ISBN 9781472905345.
(Age: 8-11) It is not often that a sport such as middle distance running features in novels for 8-11 year olds. We may have to thank the Olympics for sparking the idea and giving us an insight to this sport and the reality that change brings new opportunities if you are willing to take the chance.
AK attends a boy's boarding school in Iten Kenya where the best runners are trained and mentored by the best running coach Brother Colm. As an aspiring 800 m Olympic runner AK relishes the opportunities he has to train and learn. In fact he feels running is his destiny and devotes all his energy and time to it despite his parents and teachers urging him to focus as fully on his school work.
AK's immediate focus is on trials for the school Athletics Team and just as he makes the cut his father arrives and announces that the family are moving immediately to London for at least a year due to his work as a scientist. Naturally devastated AK finds accepting his new life difficult despite making friends with two girls in his form. His dreams of becoming a great runner are shattered however as athletics training is not available at the school and the local clubs are not open to new members.
Eventually AK begins running alone at the local park and attracts the attention of Frank, the unkempt, depressed and out of work father of the school bully. Frank was destined to have a future as a runner when he broke his leg and his career prospects were over. Frank offers to train AK who accepts, despite some misgivings, and they both gain from the experience.
This is a story about acceptance and adapting to change. Taking responsibility for his own training opens a new opportunity for AK whilst Frank makes changes to his own life and relationships moving on at last from his past disappointments.
Sue Keane

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