Terry Fox and Me by Mary Beth Leatherdale

Terry Fox and Me by Mary Beth Leatherdale
Publisher: Tundra Books
Genre: Children’s (0 – 6 y.o.), Non-Fiction, Historical
Rating: 4 Stars
Reviewed by Astilbe

Celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Terry Fox Marathon of Hope, this picture book biography tells the story of a friendship defined by strength and love.

Before Terry Fox become a national hero and icon, he was just a regular kid. But even then, his characteristic strength, determination and loyalty were apparent and were the foundation for his friendship with Doug. The two first met at basketball tryouts in grammar school. Terry was the smallest – and worst – basketball player on the court. But that didn’t stop him. With Doug’s help, Terry practiced and practiced until he earned a spot on the team. As they grew up, the best friends supported each other, challenged each other, helped each other become better athletes and better people. Doug was by Terry’s side every step of the way: when Terry received a diagnosis of cancer in his leg, when he was learning to walk – then run – with a prosthetic leg and while he was training for the race of his life, his Marathon of Hope.

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What does it mean to be a hero?

The best scenes in my opinion were the ones that explored the friendship between Doug and Terry, especially after Terry had to learn how to walk again after losing his leg to cancer. They provided an excellent example of what it means to be someone’s friend when they’re going through a scary and difficult experience. Not only was Doug kind and supportive, he did everything he could to help his best friend achieve something that would be pretty difficult for any athlete to accomplish.

I do wish this picture book had covered what happened to these characters while Terry was running his Marathon of Hope from one coast of Canada to the other. It stopped right before this part of his life started up. While many Canadian adults already know of what happened during that long marathon, most young kids will probably not be. This will be even more true for anyone who isn’t already aware of this part of Canadian history.

There were some wonderful anecdotes from Terry’s early life included in the first few scenes. He learned how to keep trying no matter how low his chances of succeeding were long before he was diagnosed with cancer. I liked the fact that the author gave so many examples of how Terry persevered in life. Most people will never have bone cancer, but everyone should learn from an early age how to remain determined and hopeful no matter what obstacles they may face in life.

Terry Fox and Me was a heartwarming true story about a true hero.

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