Named among the Best and Brightest Children’s Books of 2017 by the Denver Public Library.

Selected for the CBC Showcase List: Be Brave, Persist, Survive by the Children’s Book Council, 2017.

Named to the 2018 NCSS-CBC Notable Social Studies list by the National Council of of the Social Studies, grades six to eight. (

Selected by Bank Street College of Education to its list of The Best Children’s Books of the Year, 2018 Edition for grades nine to twelve.



Kirkus Reviews: “Speno’s detailed, engaging narrative brings the times and the race vividly to today’s readers.”

Booklist: “The strength of this debut lies in the racers’ compelling reasons for running. Included are archival photos, a route map, facts about race-related topics, source notes, a bibliography, and an index. This overview of a little-known race will appeal to fans of extreme sports, history, and survival stories.”

School Library Journal: “VERDICT A solid addition to narrative nonfiction collections where niche history topics are popular.”

VOYA Magazine: “Speno’s nonfiction debut hypnotically weaves the history of the 1920s into a colorful quilt of perseverance and ambition. …Speno supports the story with a clear narrator who speaks to all readers.”

Nonfiction Detectives: “All the excitement is recorded here in Speno’s deft hand. The narrative is engaging (I read it cover-to-cover in one sitting) with lots of historical details seamlessly woven into the text. Speno is an author to watch. His ability to make history exciting is a great skill.”

International Literacy Association: Speno weaves biographical remarks about some of the participants into the chronicle of the dramatic and often harrowing events of the 84-day race.

Ms. Yingling on “…It’s also hard to find good narrative nonfiction of interest to middle school readers, and this book is just the right length and involves one of middle schoolers’ favorite things… sports! The Great American Foot Race is an essential addition to all middle school and high school libraries.”

Junior Library Guild: Abundant photographs help provide a visual representation of the conditions the runners endured, as well as the primitive (by today’s standards) athletic wear. The runners represented all ages, races, and backgrounds.


Read Q&A with freelance writer and editor, Deborah Kalb: