The Girl Who Ran, by Frances Poletti & Kristina Yee; and Girl Running, by Annette Bay Pimentel
I love seeing how different authors and artists cover the same subjects & stories.
Here we've got last year's The Girl Who Ran by Frances Poletti and Kristina Yee, and this year's Girl Running, by Annette Bay Pimentel. Both cover Bobbi Gibb's groundbreaking run in 1966—in which she became the first woman to run the Boston Marathon despite her official application being rejected because, as the race director phrased it, "women aren’t allowed, and furthermore are not physiologically able."
So she ran—in a hoodie at first, so the race organizers wouldn't stop her—and she finished in the top third of the entire field. But despite being proven entirely wrong, the race director doubled down, saying, "I know of no girl who ran in the Boston Marathon. I do know of a girl who is supposed to have run the same roads as the marathon route today. But that's not the same." (Quote from Girl Running, cited from Time's April 29, 1966 issue.)
She ran again in 1967 and 1968, unrecognized, but with—again, according to the backmatter in Girl Running—more and more other women joining in.
She wasn't officially recognized until 1996. 1996!! *shakes fist in Boston's general direction*
Anyway, the books!
They both cover some of the same details—her love of running outdoors; how she drove around the country and trained, trained, trained; how women's running shoes literally didn't exist; the New Shoe Blisters during the marathon itself; how the other runners and the crowds supported her in the '66 race, even if the organizers themselves didn't.
The Girl Who Ran puts more of an emphasis on the external pressure and pushback she faced:
Girl Running deals with the unfairness angle, too, but ultimately focuses more on the physicality and process of running itself, and dedicates five full spreads to the marathon itself. Here are the second and third:
Did those two spreads make me cry? Yes, they sure did. Seeing her co-competitors not only warmly welcome her, but actively support her, and then seeing the shared joy of the female onlookers, WELL. My Grinch Heart just got too big for my ribcage again.
They're both solid books, but my heart belongs to the Pimentel: in large part because of the collage/cut paper artwork, which my pictures, as usual, do not do justice to—I especially love the landscapes at the bottom that track her progress—but also because, again, of the text's focus on the physicality and hard work of running. I'm not a runner AT ALL, but I have enormous respect for the dedication it takes, and Pimentel really captures that & makes you feel it.
The Girl Who Ran, meanwhile, includes some rhyming couplets that are just not my thing:
She ran further and further, and she ached and perspired,
and the world whooshed on by, like the wind in the fire.
I feel the rhythm of them, and I understand that they're referencing Gibbs' autobiography, but... eh. Also, as much as I love the style of the illustrations—I am a sucker for word art—it was pointed out to me that the artwork is occasionally... farty, and now I can't unsee it:
I know, I know, I am apparently six years old but IT GIVES ME THE GIGGLES EVERY SINGLE TIME I LOOK AT IT.