Providentially, I read the above picture book to my little guy two Sundays ago. Sarah Mackenzie features it on her list of October picture books, so that’s why I got it from the library. I really keep the happiness flowing in my life when I share picture books, with my children and here on the blog. Picture books full of wonder just delight me so much! Sarah’s recommendations follow the seasons and I love that. So I got all these books about pumpkins and fall, including The Pumpkin Runner and Sophie’s Squash. Now that I think about it, I vaguely remember my little sister recommending this book to me years ago and seeing it at her home, before she moved to Maine. At the time, I didn’t get why the book is so cool! Now I do! (It helps if you actually read the book.)
I get why the book is so cool because just this week in “Don’t Miss This” Ms. Emily and Mr Dave, the two guides, talked about this story! They brought it up in context of Hebrews 11, the “Hall of Faith” and Hebrews 12, about running the race before us. (“Don’t Miss This” is a YouTube channel that gives more insight into the scriptures. It follows the Come, Follow Me Study Guide about the New Testament. I’m so happy that it’s now a podcast as well!)
I was listening to Dave and Emily earlier this week, as I do every week on Monday or Tuesday. They told a story, as heard in the above video. I thought, wow, that sounds soooo familiar, I think I just that read story in that one picture book! The memory was hazy though because, I confess, I nodded off to sleep while reading the book aloud, because it was a late Sunday night and I was lying on my bed as I like to do when I share cozy stories at night with my picture book buddy. I’m so reveling in the joy that my baby, at 10, still likes to let me read aloud picture books to him. I don’t remember exactly how the picture book ended, just that the main character won a race.
In the picture book, The Pumpkin Runner, the main character is Joshua Summerhays. In real life, he was Cliff Young, a 61-year-old Australian farmer who ran an ultramarathon by running in gumboots at a shuffle pace. For those of you who are uneducated like I am in the world of running, an ultramarathon is 544 miles! It lasts for days! This ultramarathon went from Sydney to Melbourne. Well, guess what?! Cliff, a potato farmer, won the race in 1983! He is a prime example of Hebrews 12:1:
Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us…
What’s amazing is what he did with the prize money. Watch Dave and Emily tell the story in the video above or read here to find out! So wonderful! I just love it! It just warms my heart to know that Cliff did that!
That is what Christ does for us guys! He gives us an example of tremendous endurance because of the race He ran, and won. Now He is sharing the reward with us! We are so blessed!
Let us each run our race and help our fellow runners along the way!
If you want to watch the whole episode from Dave and Emily, here it is below.
Then here is a video with the author of The Pumpkin Runner, Marsha Diane Arnold.
(For a guide to exploration based on the story, here are some examples from a homeschooling mom of how she guided her children to make connections from the story in their notebooks. Then here are some printables based on the story.)