Last-Place Lin by Wai Chim, illustrated by Freda Chiu – at a glance
The School Reading Lists’ five word review: Picture book, sports day, perseverance, self-belief.
Children’s book title: Last-Place Lin.
Children’s author: Wai Chim.
Children’s illustrator: Freda Chiu.
Genre: Picture book.
Published by: Allen & Unwin Children’s Books
Recommended for children aged: 4-6 year-olds.
First published: Paperback September 2023.
This children’s book is ideal for: Early years and reading before sports day.
To see the latest price or order, click on the book cover image.
It’s Sports Day!
Everyone has a different House colour.
I’m in the Red House. Go Red!
Lin starts Sports Day full of team spirit and enthusiasm. Unfortunately, this doesn’t lead to much actual success. She loses her glasses on the obstacle course, misses the balloon toss and trips in the wheelbarrow race.
Oof. I’m still in last place.
A mean team-mate labels her ‘last-place Lin’ and resents being on her team as ‘we’re going to lose for sure.’ When his prediction comes true, Lin decides she’s going to give up on Sports Day. She’s tried her best in every race but has come last each time.
But the last race of the day is a Fun Run and everyone must take part. Lin tries to hide but eventually lines up with the others.
Ready, set, go! We take off.
It’s hard going. Lin quickly falls behind all the other children. At first, the phrase ‘last-place Lin’ taunts her but as she keeps going, she turns the words into a chant that pushes her on.
I might finish last. But. I. Will. Finish.
Soon she realises that the crowd are actually cheering for her, helping her to keep going and achieve her own success.
Last-Place Lin is an uplifting tale of perseverance. In a sports-focused story, the temptation could have be to let Lin magically win her final race, emerging as the celebrated champion. While that might have been a more Hollywood-style ending, the fact that she actually comes last is far more realistic. Not every child is sporty and even with the best will in the world, many will never be able to run fast, jump high or be a football star. Someone has to come last in every race and the key is to try your best.
Wai Chim was inspired to write about Lin by her time on the TV show Australian Survivor and her own experience of coming last in a gruelling race. As she states in the author’s notes Last-Place Lin celebrates the will and spirit it takes to keep going, even if you are bad at something.’
The bright illustrations and minimal text make for an accessible read and the Sports Day theme is one that even very young children are likely to identify with. The Australian setting (the first image is of a koala) and the diversity of Lin’s classmates add an appealingly multicultural element to the book.
Last-Place Lin is a positive and highly relevant tale of determination that will appeal to fans of Charlie and Lola and Julia Donaldson.
Many thanks to Allen & Unwin Children’s Books for the review copy.
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If you like Last-Place Lin by Wai Chim, illustrated by Freda Chiu you might also like: our reviews of I’m More Than A Sheep by Bethany Christou, Little Big Feelings, endorsed by Dr Janet Rose, The Little Thing by Nick Cave, Against the Odds by Alastair Humphreys, illustrated by Pola Mai and Last Girl In by Cheryl Diane Parkinson.
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