The Fastest Boy in the World by Elizabeth Laird
  

The Fastest Boy in the World

Written by Elizabeth Laird

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Shortlisted for the 2015 CILIP Carnegie Medal - Shortlisted for the Scottish Children's Book Awards 2015 8-11 age category In a beautifully told story packed with emotion and action, Elizabeth Laird tells how eleven- year- old Solomon turns his dreams of becoming an International runner into reality. Solomon runs everywhere – and always especially fast to school. He knows he is good and is convinced that he could join the roster of the great Ethiopian runners but he also knows that growing up in a small village, he’ll never have the chance to train as an elite athlete. When Solomon’s grandfather insists that he accompanies him on a trip to Addis Ababa, everything in his life changes. Solomon’s story is funny, touching and inspiring.

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Synopsis

The Fastest Boy in the World by Elizabeth Laird

Eleven-year-old Solomon loves to run! The great athletes of the Ethiopian national team are his heroes and he dreams that one day he will be a gold-medal-winning athlete like them, in spite of his ragged shorts and bare feet. When his grandfather announces that he's going to take Solomon to Addis Ababa, Solomon cannot believe his ears. A trip to the capital? It's unfathomable. Solomon's joy is increased when he realizes that the Ethiopian running team will be doing a victory parade through the city that day. Maybe he'll get a glimpse of Haile Gebrselassie or Derartu Tulu?! But Solomon's grandfather has other plans. As Solomon follows him through the big, overwhelming streets, he learns something he cannot believe. The strict old man is a war hero who once risked his life to save a friend and has been in hiding ever since. When grandfather collapses, Solomon knows that getting help from his village is up to him. It's a twenty-mile run from the city to home, and grandfather's life hangs in the balance. Can the small bare-footed runner with the big heart do it?

About the Author

Elizabeth Laird

Elizabeth Laird was born in New Zealand of Scottish parents. She trained as an English language teacher, and her first job was in Addis Ababa. She has always retained a strong interest in Ethiopia, and his written several books set there, including CILIP Carnegie Medal shortlisted The Fastest Boy in the World. Later, while she was working in London, she was invited by the British Council to teach a summer school in India. The flight from Bombay to Bhopal was bumpy, and she was horribly airsick. The man in the next seat looked after her with great kindness. His name was David McDowall, and he made a deep impression on her. They married a year later. That was forty-two years ago, and they’ve been looking after each other ever since.

David was working in Iraq for the British Council at the time of their marriage, so that’s where they started their married life. They travelled widely, down to the Marshes and up into Kurdistan, where Elizabeth would later set Kiss the Dust. After a stint in London, David started working for the United Nations. They moved to Beirut, along with their first son. A fierce civil war was in progress, which formed the backdrop for her novel Oranges in No Man’s Land. After a year, the situation became too dangerous, and they were evacuated to Vienna, where their second son was born.

Returning to London, they decided to try to earn their living as writers, and took in bed and breakfast for a while to make ends meet. When the children were old enough, Elizabeth began to travel again. She returned many times to Ethiopia, but also visited Palestine, running workshops for writers in Gaza and the West Bank, and visiting several refugee camps. These experiences inspired A Little Piece of Ground. Indignation at the invasion of Iraq sparked Crusade, a historical novel set during a previous disastrous attempt to conquer a Middle Eastern country a thousand years earlier.

The plight of refugees as a result of the Syrian war deeply affected Elizabeth. She was invited by the Norwegian Refugee Council to run writers’ workshops in two Syrian refugee camps just across the border into Jordan. Spending time in Amman, and meeting other refugee families, she put those voices and experiences together into Welcome to Nowhere.

Inspired often by her travels, Elizabeth has also written novels set in the UK, and several historical novels as well. She has won the Children’s Book Award, been shortlisted six times for the CILIP Carnegie Medal, as well as every other major children’s book award.

Photo: © Anne Mortensen

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Book Info

Format

Hardback
176 pages
Interest Age: From 7

Author

Elizabeth Laird
More books by Elizabeth Laird

Author's Website

www.elizabethlaird.co.uk/

Publisher

Macmillan Children's Books an imprint of Pan Macmillan

Publication date

5th June 2014

ISBN

9781447267164

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