September 22, 2020

Meet Terry Fox (Scholastic Canada Biography)

Written by Elizabeth MacLeod
Illustrated by Mike Deas
Scholastic Canada
32 pp.
Ages 6-10
September 2020

This September marks the 40th anniversary of the end of Terry Fox's Marathon of Hope run across Canada. While there have been more than several Canadian books written for young people about this impressive young man, Meet Terry Fox, the sixth and newest volume in the Scholastic Canada Biography series by Elizabeth MacLeod and Mike Deas, is perhaps the most reader-friendly and comprehensive without being too weighty.

Though Elizabeth MacLeod begins with a snapshot of Terry's defining run, with the young man stepping and striding in pain towards his escort van, the author judiciously provides the starting points of Terry Fox's life to help young readers relate to a Canadian hero. Born in 1958, Terry was part of a sports-loving family. Terry's favourite sport was basketball and, though he was not the greatest when he started, he worked hard and excelled, sharing his school's Athlete of the Year award with his best friend, Doug Alward, who would later accompany him on his Marathon of Hope. 
From Meet Terry Fox by Elizabeth MacLeod, illus. by Mike Deas
While at university, Terry was diagnosed with a type of cancer called osteogenic sarcoma and had much of his right leg amputated. Though he was still taking chemotherapy which made him feel sick, within weeks, Terry was walking on a prosthetic. Seeing the other patients who were in pain or dying, and determined to not let the loss of his leg stop him, Terry decided to raise money for cancer research.
From Meet Terry Fox by Elizabeth MacLeod, illus. by Mike Deas
Regardless of the pain of blisters and sores and the need to develop a running gait that would work with his artificial leg, Terry was determined to run a marathon every day until he'd made it all the way across Canada, 8530 km. With support from the Canadian Cancer Society, a variety of sponsors, and Doug and Terry's family, Terry began his Marathon of Hope on April 12, 1980 with a step in the waters at St. John's, Newfoundland. Through there was little media attention at the onset, Terry appreciated all donations and kindnesses extended to him and Doug. But by the time he crossed from Quebec to Ontario, people knew about Terry Fox. He was honoured at countless events and the support, via donations, running companions and media, was growing.

On September 1, 1980, outside of Thunder Bay, after running 5373 km, Terry was forced to stop when the cancer spread to his lungs. He may have stopped running but Terry had not stopped dreaming of raising one dollar for every Canadian. He achieved that goal and more before he died on June 28, 1981.
From Meet Terry Fox by Elizabeth MacLeod, illus. by Mike Deas
By focusing on Terry's determination and his objectives for raising cancer research funds through his running, as well as the legacy of his work, Elizabeth MacLeod spotlights the heroism and achievement of this young man. She spends little text on the cancer or his death, though she acknowledges both, instead emphasizing the enormity of his accomplishments and of his impact.
Mike Deas, whose illustrations are a blend of digital with watercolour, gouache and ink, likewise emphasizes who Terry was and what he accomplished. The visual narrative by Mike Deas is about Terry the athlete and the young man who had the courage and stamina to endure so much to become a global hero. (Terry Fox is honoured world-wide with the annual Terry Fox Run which has raised hundreds of millions of dollars for cancer research and is held in many countries around the world.)
Though Meet Terry Fox will be a valuable addition to any home or school library as an illustrated biography for teaching character education, Elizabeth MacLeod and Mike Deas have given us a great story, albeit a true one, and one that inspires as well as teaches.
• • • • • • • • •
Terry Fox is also available in the French-language version Biographie en Images: Voici Terry Fox

• • • • • • • • •

To date, the Scholastic Canada Biography series by Elizabeth MacLeod and Mike Deas includes the following six volumes:

Meet Terry Fox (2020)

No comments:

Post a Comment