Terry Fox and Me: A Book Review

Title: Terry Fox and Me 
Author: Mary Beth Leatherdale 
Illustrator: Milan Pavlovic 
Publisher: Tundra Books, 2020 
Grade Range: Picture Book, Gr JK-3 

TERRY FOX AND ME BOOK SUMMARY

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.

Written from Doug’s perspective, this story shows that Terry Fox’s legacy goes beyond the physical and individual accomplishments of a disabled athlete and honors the true value of friendship.

THOUGHTS ON THE BOOK TERRY FOX AND ME

Terry Fox is a Canadian hero who became an icon of hope, perseverance and courage. He is a very well-known figure in Canada’s modern history. But have you heard about Terry’s friend, Doug Alward? The friend who stood by him, encouraged him, and persevered with him? Terry Fox and Me by Mary Beth Leatherdale tells the story of Terry Fox from a unique perspective that of his best friend, Doug Alward. 

Terry Fox and Me is a sweet story of friendship. Readers see an example of a faithful friend in Doug and Terry’s friendship. Doug encourages Terry, stands by him and helps him. What a great example of a true friend! 

The reader also learns more about how Terry persevered and what he went through by providing behind-the scenes details. The book has a map showing Terry’s planned route, a list of provisions that were packed, and a training schedule. Readers are shown what it was like for Terry to learn to use his prosthetic leg and a little about what he went through to be able to start running. The story helps readers understand what Terry went through before his run even started. 

A timeline of Terry’s life events, a few photos, and notes from both Terry’s brother, Darrell Fox, and Doug Alward, complete the book. These details help show that the story of Terry Fox is not just a story but an actual part of our country’s history. 

This book is advertised for grades level JK-3, but I think that kids even older would gain a lot by reading it. Much of the included details would be lost on younger kids. I think that the book could be read on two levels. The younger kids would likely enjoy hearing about an example of true friendship and perseverance. Older kids would gain from that too, but they would likely enjoy more of the behind-the-scenes details. 

Terry Fox and Me doesn’t go into the details of what happened during Terry’s run- the book ends as the run is just beginning. The focus of the book is on the friendship, hope, perseverance and courage that brought Terry that far. If you want to learn about Terry’s whole story, I recommend you also read some other books that go into those details. However, in my case, I already knew the rest of the story. Reading about Terry’s friendship with Doug and learning some of the additional details from behind-the-scenes was a fresh perspective on the story of Terry Fox. 

I’ve learned a lot about Terry Fox over the years. I remember learning about his run while I was growing up. I learned about his courage, his fundraising for cancer research, and his death. I don’t recall ever learning about any of the behind-the-scenes details about his life or his friendship with Doug. I highly recommend Terry Fox and Me to add to your read-aloud pile.

LEARN MORE ABOUT TERRY FOX

https://youtu.be/H2F9LbF_pF0

Love Learning Through Historical Fiction?

Check out our Canadian History Through Living Books List! Over 100 pages of books to choose from… all about Canadian history – picture books, chapter books, to books for high school. Includes books with diverse perspectives and experiences all organized into time periods or historical events. Now available in the store!

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