The Pumpkin Runner by Marsha Diane Arnold, illustrated by Brad Sneed, hardcover, 32 pages, Dial Books for Young Readers (2005), ISBN: 0803721242
"Nearly all the sheep ranchers in Blue Gum Valley rode horses or drove Jeeps to check on their sheep. But Joshua Summerhayes liked to run... with Yellow Dog trailing behind him". For 50 years, fueled by the pumpkins from his special pumpkin patch, Joshua has been running to check on newborn lambs and rescue injured sheep. Folks say he is getting too old to run around a 10,000-acre ranch, but Aunt Millie knows better. "As long as he's got pumpkins to eat, he'll keep running", she says. Then Joshua hears about the "Koala-K", a race from Melbourne to Sydney. With Yellow Dog at his side and Aunt Millie cooking up his favorite pumpkin dishes, Joshua figures they can "see two cities and get in a little run as well". People laugh when old Joshua shows up in his overalls and orange gumboots, calmly nibbling a slice of pumpkin. But before long, folks start to take notice – especially Damien Dodgerelle, who everyone sees as a shoo-in to win. Inspired by a true story, a talented team packs plenty of excitement and emotion into this tale introducing a humble and generous hero who knows that winning isn't always the reason to run a race. Author Marsha Diane Arnold – who made an impressive debut with the multi-award-winning "Heart of a Tiger", and "The Pumpkin Runner", with Brad Sneed's vibrant energetic illustrations – is a shoo-in to win readers from New York to Sydney.