The true story of Fauja Singh, who broke world records to become the first one hundred-year-old to run a marathon, shares valuable lessons on the source of his grit, determination to overcome obstacles, and commitment to positive representation of the Sikh community.
Every step forward is a victory.
Fauja Singh was born determined. He was also born with legs that wouldn't allow him to play cricket with his friends or carry him to school miles from his village in Punjab. But that didn't stop him. Working on his family's farm, Fauja grew stronger to meet his own full potential.
He never stopped striving. At the age of 81, after a lifetime of making his body, mind, and heart stronger, Fauja decided to run his first marathon. He went on to break records all around the world and became the first person over 100 to complete the grueling long-distance race.
With exuberant text by Simran Jeet Singh and exhilarating illustrations by Baljinder Kaur, the true story of Fauja Singh reminds us that it's both where we start and how we finish that make our journeys unforgettable.
Gr 1-4—This engaging picture book biography tells the amazing story of a 100-year-old marathoner named Fauja Singh. Born in India, Singh could not walk until his fifth birthday and endured many other challenges in his long life. When people doubted him, he kept going. The book uses that determination, along with his mother's unfailing encouragement, as the theme for his achievements. He grew into a healthy and active adult, with a family and a farm. A move to England at age 81 led to his emergence as a runner and his eventual record-setting accomplishments. The book's language is appropriately inspirational, but also highlights the setbacks that Singh faced involving injuries, self-doubt, and racism. Slightly awkward wording disrupts the narrative flow a couple of times, but Singh's story is unique and engaging, especially during the second half. Softly rendered illustrations effectively depict the various parts of the runner's life; expressive faces and figures deftly convey movement and emotions. Recurring images of kites and birds reflect his indomitable spirit. Details of food, clothing, and hairstyles add spiritual and cultural context. VERDICT A fine addition to picture book biography collections, with an inspirational message and strong cultural content.—Steven Engelfried, Wilsonville P.L., ORCopyright 2020 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.
Fauja Singh has defied expectations all his life. This book follows him as he takes his first steps at five, grows up to run his own farm, emigrates from India to England as an 81-year-old, and takes up running as an even older man, completing the London marathon six times. Whenever he encounters naysayers, Singh writes, "Fauja did not listen and Fauja did not stop." Instead, he keeps his mother's encouragement close: "You know yourself, Fauja, and you know what you're capable of. Today is a chance to do your best." As a response to discrimination against Sikhs in the U.S., Fauja runs the New York City Marathon at age 93: "He couldn't read. He couldn't write. He couldn't speak English. But he could run." Though he finishes that race in pain, he keeps racing, in 2011 becoming the first 100-year-old person to run a marathon. Singh's uplifting tale is supported by Kaur's sensitive illustrations of emotionally resonant moments, like Fauja's mother lovingly combing his long hair. Ages 4-8. (Aug.)Copyright 2020 Publishers Weekly, LLC Used with permission.