Perfect for fans of Lizzy Legend and the Baseball Genius series, this quick-paced, heartfelt, and zany novel follows a speedy kid from an unconventional family who will do whatever it takes to win an international track contest.
Grant Falloon isn’t just good at track; he’s close to breaking the world record 100-meter time for his age group. So when the mega-rich Babblemoney sneaker company announces an international competition to find the fastest kid in the world, he’s desperate to sign up.
But not so fast. Nothing’s ever that easy with the eccentric Falloon family. Turns out, his non-conformist parents never got him a legal birth certificate. He can’t race for the United States, so now if he wants to compete, he may just have to invent his own country.
And even if that crazy plan works, winning gold will mean knocking his best friend—and biggest competitor—Jay, out of the competition. As unexpected hurdles arise, Grant will have to ask not only if winning is possible, but what he’s willing to sacrifice for it.
Matthew Ross Smith is an author, musician, and writing professor from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. For more, including animated writing tutorials you can share with your students, visit him at Matthew-Ross-Smith.com.
“I dare you to predict the winner of The Million Dollar Race. OK, you dragged it out of me: it’s the READER! Ready...set...”
– Jerry Spinelli, Newbery Award-Winning Author of Maniac Magee
Two tween runners face off against each other and injustice in this fast-paced read. Grant Falloon and his best friend, Jay Fa’atasi, are sprinters, obsessed with speed and breaking records; the friendly competition between the two encourages each of them to dig deep and run their hardest. When a video of an epic fall goes viral online (thanks to Grant’s social media– obsessed younger brother), a chain of events is set in motion that will change their lives. Runners worldwide are invited to compete in a high-profile, high-stakes race sponsored by a sneaker mogul. Qualifying isn’t easy, and while Grant can provide the quick race times, he must rely on his family to find a creative loophole for him to be able to participate. Grant connects with international runners and factory workers at the sneaker company and comes to realize that what’s at stake is bigger than a $1 million race. Characters are at times over-the-top, but the loping plot crosses the finish line with positive messages about social justice and letting go of our investment in what virtual audiences may think of us. Grant and other main characters are assumed White; Jay and his family are Samoan American. Part classic sports story, part criticism of digital media celebrity obsession, all heart.
– Kirkus Reviews, November 15, 2020
In twin tributes to sports and social conscience presented through a mix of well-lead narrative, texts, and transcribed sound clips, young athletes cleverly subvert an unscrupulous shoe company’s marketing stunt. Thirteen-year-old track star Grant Falloon is thrilled when the Babblemoney Sneaker Company announces a pair of sprints open to a young runner of each sex from each country. Unfortunately, his ex-hippie parents never got him the birth certificate he needs to register, then his best friend and chief rival Jay Fa’atasi wins the right to represent the U.S. But little brother Franny, a seasoned vlogger, has a wild idea: found a personal country online. Grant’s already conflicted feelings rise to a new pitch with the arrival of disturbing evidence of ugly working conditions at Babblemoney’s factories in southeast Asia. The girls’ race gets barely a glance here, but Smith provides white Grant and Samoan Jay with close, loving families and wheels in a flint-hearted corporate CEO of deceptively grandmotherly public mien. Action on and off the track invites cheers from sports fans and budding activists alike.