|Year of Publication||2002|
|Series Title||Sports stories 55|
|ISBN Number||155028763X (bound)|
|Descriptors||Bullying; Chapter Book; English Language; Health; New Brunswick; School; Sport|
Toby feels like a failure because he is repeating fifth grade and because the other children make fun of his weight, but a new teacher at his school, Mr. Walker, believes in Toby and pesters him to join the cross country team. He refuses until his friend Amy has an asthma attack and he gets winded while running for help. Then, he decides that it is time to get in shape. He takes up running and his success at that sport translates to success in other aspects of his life. Robert Rayner, the author of this chapter book, is from Saint George, New Brunswick.
|Age Range|| |
Toby Morton is in grade six, and he is overweight. The children in his class tease him and treat him as an outsider. His new teacher, Mr. Walker, shows compassion and patience despite Toby’s low grades and his tendency to disrupt class. When his friend Amy suffers from a serious asthma attack, Toby tries to run for help, but he collapses as he is physically unable to run any further. Although Amy is fine, Toby is spurred by the thought that she may need his help again in the future, and he joins Mr. Walker’s cross-country running team. Though he struggles as a runner, Toby concentrates his efforts, changes his diet, improves his grades, and overcomes a false accusation of cheating during a race. In the end, Toby manages to avoid finishing last in the final race of the year, and he discovers a sense of belonging and social acceptance as a member of his Brunswick Valley School race team.
“Seeing the teacher on duty looking the other way, Toby slipped into school and made it to the washroom without being challenged. As he entered, he caught a glimpse of himself in the mirror. He looked away quickly, but not quickly enough. He’d seen what he didn’t want to see.
Steeling himself, he looked back.
Well, the hair was alright, blonde, cropped close, and spiky. But his close-set eyes looked sunken and narrow because of the puffiness of the face surrounding them. His mouth, he had to admit, looked pouty, his thin lips drawn down into a permanent sulk.
Then his gaze travelled downward to his body, and stopped.
Yes. He was big, and he hated it, and he was ashamed of it. The sight of his body reflected in the mirror filled him with disgust.
He addressed his reflection: No wonder you don’t have any friends. Who’d want to be friends with a pathetic blob like you?” (20-21).