THE FIRST MARATHON
The Legend of Pheidippides by Susan Reynolds, Illustrated by Daniel Minter
Review by Carol Goodrow
The First Marathon, The Legend of Pheidippides by Susan Reynolds is aptly dedicated to Ms Reynolds's fifth- and sixth- grade social studies teacher, the grades when children are first studying ancient history. Her book will provide any teacher with a great introduction to this subject.
The First Marathon is the story of Pheidippides, the young runner who ran the first marathon, from Marathon to Athens. According to Ms Reynolds, this run is legendary. But Phedippides was a real runner, first as a child, then as a herald in the army where he ran many more than 26.2 miles in his actual run from Athens to Sparta.
Ms Reynolds tells her story well. She weaves the most important facts from history as well as essential vocabulary into an exciting story for upper elementary students. Her text is complemented by Daniel Minter's fabulous "Greek" illustrations which will leave a lasting impression on young historians.
I easily recommend this book for classroom teachers of grades 4 and up. The readability is 4th grade level, and content wise - it is appropriate for grades 4 and up (American history is often taught in grade 4, ancient history in grades 5 and 6).
If you have an exceptional younger child who is interested in history, then this book might work for you. One of my students (grade 2, 7-year old) listened to this story at home with his mother. According to Mom, "Liam sat still and listened to the reading with continued attention. He liked the win and hero side of the story. He was quite interested in the heroic death that brought Pheidippides heroic status. He liked the drawing style with the handsome boats."
You can find out more about this book by visiting Susan's Web site at http://www.journeyheretothere.com/pheidippides.htm