In cooperation with Gibb herself, Poletti and Yee tell the story of the first woman to run the Boston Marathon, questioning authority with her feet.
The Boston Marathon had been taking place for 70 years when Bobbi Gibb, a white woman, steps illegally to the starting line in 1966, a hoodie covering her hair. Her road there is strewn with the land mines of bias, everything from “So unladylike” to the official comments on the rejection to her application: “Women cannot run marathons. It’s against the rules.” Poletti and Yee neatly evoke the joy some find in running, simply running. Gibb “ran with her pack, going higher and higher, / the world whooshing by, like the wind in the fire.” Such couplets are found every few pages, the last four words the refrain. Readers gain a sense of the experience through Chapman’s artwork, the light-footed energy of the watercolors slipping outside the pen’s fine line, a veil of wind trailing behind Gibb. Halfway through the race her ruse is up. She is boiling in her hoodie and confides to a fellow marathoner, a black man, that she is afraid of ejection. “We won’t let anyone throw you out; it’s a free road.”
Well-told and illustrated, Gibb’s story speaks to not only women’s fight for equality, but the power of community.