Ziggy's Blue Ribbon Day

illustrated by W. R. Alley. Ages 5 to 8. Farrar Straus Giroux, 2005. 0-374-32352-6

How I Came to Write This Book:

Track and field day is glorious outdoor fun for many kids, but for those who don't do well in sports, it can be a day of public humiliation. In fact, one child I know begged his mother to let him stay home from school on field day, because he couldn't bear to face coming in last in every event. So I thought it would be satisfying to give one of these non-athletic kids a chance to succeed on field day in some other way. When I first wrote Ziggy, I had Ziggy getting black ribbons, instead of gray (silver) ones, but my writing group friends said that no school would ever give out black ribbons to the last-place kids -- but my boys' school actually did! However, I've heard that field day there has now been changed so that it is pure fun with a rainbow of ribbons for everyone.

Published: 2005

Ziggy's Blue Ribbon Day


When Ziggy's class goes out for track-and-field day at school, Ziggy knows that he is supposed to do his best. Unfortunately, he knows that his best is 'worse than everyone else's best' and that he will probably end up with an envelope full of 'gray' (silver) ribbons instead of the blue, red, and gold ones that indicate various levels of winning. He's right, but Ziggy, the class artist, really shines at drawing brightly colored pictures, and the other kids happily barter their blue ribbons for his work. . . Mills offers a simple but heartening story for kids who don't excel on the playing field but have other talents. From the roll of a pencil off a desk to the body language of schoolchildren who really want to be called on and those who really don't, Alley's paintings capture the school milieu with keenly observed details and a wry humor. A great choice to read aloud on field day, this upbeat picture book has broad appeal.
- Booklist