Izzy Barr, Running Star
Illustrated by Rob Shepperson (Margaret Ferguson Books/FSG 2015)
Junior Library Guild selection
How I Came to Write This Book:
I loved having the chance to get to know the third friend, Izzy Barr, more closely in this new book in the series. I'm not a runner myself, but the town I live in - Boulder, Colorado - has one of the biggest running communities in the U.S. and hosts one of the nation's major 10K races: The Bolder Boulder, held each year on Memorial Day. My boys' elementary school had a Fitness Club to help kids train for it, just like the Fitness Club at Franklin School. I know that if Izzy Barr lived in Boulder, she'd finish first in her age group every year!
This third installment in the chapter book series . . . focuses on Izzy Barr, one of those girls who make the phrase “run like a girl” a compliment instead of an insult. Due to Izzy’s love of running and dedication to practice, she is the fastest runner in the third grade—except when classmate Skipper beats her. Not only has Skipper just gotten some fancy track shoes, but her dad is their P.E. teacher and the coach for Franklin School’s Fitness Club, which trains students for the citywide 10K race. Izzy desperately wants to beat her rival, first at the upcoming school field day and then at the 10K. The story’s other major tension involves Izzy’s jealous feelings whenever her dad attends one of her half-brother’s athletic events instead of hers. Mills presents and resolves problems in a winning story, and Shepperson’s depiction of Izzy as African American adds some welcome diversity to this group of friends.