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by Frederick Lipp

illustrated by Jason Gaillard



Sophy and her mother live in an isolated Cambodian village. When the numbers man—the man who counts how many people live in the village—arrives, he realizes that her father has recently died, and noticing how she gazes at his sneakers, he decides to give her a gift: running shoes. He doesn’t know it, but now Sophy can go to school, even though it is a long journey from her village, because the shoes will protect her. After her mother gives permission, Sophy takes off—and meets with a group of male students who are not very happy to find a girl in their midst. But the teacher is kind and after a running race proves her prowess, Sophy is accepted. When the numbers man returns the following year, Sophy has learned enough to give him a gift of her own. Straightforward and accessible, this tale provides a memorable picture both of life in Cambodia and of one girl’s struggle to obtain an education. Gaillard’s realistic illustrations add a quiet, lyrical touch. (Picture book. 5-8) (Kirkus Reviews, January 1, 2008)


  • Amelia Bloomer Lists – Beginning Readers Fiction: 2009


2nd Grade, 3rd Grade, 4th Grade, Ages 0-8, Education