The Fastest Boy in the World by Elizabeth Laird

Published by Macmillian Children’s Books (ISBN 9781447267171)

I thoroughly enjoyed this quite short and simple novel. It incorporates a rite of passage story with themes of the Olympics, family bonds/relationships, honour, friendship and poverty. It evokes a fantastic image of the country of Ethiopia in its pages - Elizabeth Laird clearly knows the country well.

It is the story of Solomon, an eleven year old boy living with his family in a mud hut in rural Ethiopia.  His old Grandfather has business in Addis Ababa and decides to walk the 20 miles with Solomon as company.  On their journey Grandfather takes ill and Solomon is left alone in the strange, city with “moving staircases” and "tall glass buildings” to decide what action to take, inspired by his running heroes, Haile Gebreslassie and Derartu Tulu, he decides he must run to save his grandfather.

I found it a charming story which gave me a delightful insight into this part of the world. It was an easy and light read.