Allen & Unwin, 2023
32pp., hbk., RRP $A19.99
It’s Sports Day! Everyone has a different House colour.
I’m in the Red House. Go Red!
It’s time for the sack race. On your marks, get set, go!
But not everyone can come first.
The scenario for this story from Australian Survivor contestant, Wai Chim, of the annual horror of school sports day will be familiar for many young readers, as will be the feeling of being Last-Place Lin. Coupled with the accurate, sometimes amusing illustrations, it will resonate with so many who will be able to put themselves in the place of any of the characters – except the winner’s.
With Australia awash with elite sports news at the moment from Victoria’s cancellation of the 2026 Commonwealth Games to the FIFA Women’s World Cup, the Ashes series between Australia and England, the World Swimming Championships in Japan, and the looming finals series in the football codes, it could seem to many that the only people valued in this country are the elite sports competitors. And despite Australia’s reputation for cutting down its tall poppies, that doesn’t seem to apply to sport. It couldn’t be a worse time for all the Last-Place Lins so this is a timely release to share to show that winning is fleeting and developing resilience, perseverance and endurance – even courage to try – are the values that will stand our young people in greatest stead.
As well as celebrating Lin’s persistence and that of her friend for running alongside her, doing some simple maths that shows the proportion of how many will feel the euphoria of wining in a race of eight contestants can put things in perspective. In a television interview with a young lad who had scored 80+ tries for his rugby league team this season, former Brisbane Broncos player Sam Thaiday reminded him of that euphoria of crossing the line and suggested that he might like to share it with his team mates by passing the ball to them too rather than focusing on the statistics. What an important lesson for winners to learn!!!
Earlier this year we were sharing real-life stories of those who tried and endured until they finished in conjunction with the National Simultaneous Storytime book, The Speedy Sloth as we encouraged students to identify and celebrate those things that they were good at if sport was not their forté and this is another worthy addition to that collection.