The Fastest Boy in the World by Elizabeth Laird

The Fastest Boy in the World

Written by Elizabeth Laird

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The Lovereading4Kids comment

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. ~ Julia Eccleshare


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?


The author has created intensely believable characters and her writing is full of perceptive insights. School Librarian Spare, arresting story of love, secrets and hard-won speed. Metro As with anything [Elizabeth] sets in Ethiopia, a country clearly dear to her heart, this short novel draws the reader into its setting. She is a superb writer, a masterly storyteller. Scotsman A life-affirming story. The Times What a delightful gem this book is. Expert touches allow the reader to imagine the Ethiopian setting with ease... Gentle and powerful, this book is a classic tale which younger readers will enjoy and which could be used as an excellent class reader. Armadillo Magazine Inspired by Elizabeth's own experiences in Ethiopia comes an uplifting tale of family, friendship, hope and believing the impossible. Ethiopian News An endearing, eye-opening story about a brave boy whose dream to succeed will resonate with young readers from every walk of life.

About the Author

Elizabeth Laird

ELIZABETH LAIRD was born in New Zealand of Scottish parents. On leaving university, she lived and taught for some time in Addis Ababa, where she fell in love with Ethiopia’s stunning landscapes and brace, enduring people. Since her first trip to the country in her early twenties, Liz has travelled extensively all over Ethiopia (and indeed the world), and everywhere she went she saw boys and girls running. Running to school, running to work. They ran and ran. In every young heart the ambition to win gold for their country was beating. These young runners with their huge dreams have stayed with Liz and inspired the story of The Fastest Boy in the World.

In between her travels in Ethiopia, Malaysia and India, Liz also lived for some time in Lebanon, Iraq and Austria with her husband and two sons. After leaving Austria she and her husband decided to earn their living as writers, settling in London: since then, she has written over 30 books for children, has been shortlisted five times for the CILIP Carnegie Medal as well as every other major children’s book award. Liz now lives with her husband, splitting their time between London and Edinburgh.

Elizabeth Laird's books have been translated into 15 languages.

Photo: © Anne Mortensen

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Book Info


176 pages
Interest Age: From 7


Elizabeth Laird
More books by Elizabeth Laird

Author's Website


Macmillan Children's Books an imprint of Pan Macmillan

Publication date

5th June 2014




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