What are these boys doing here? They are waiting for the start of the great race. They all wear shorts and have numbered sweatshirts.
See the boy with the number 15 on his shirt? It’s called James. The boys are all tall and strong, but James is small and slight. So they tell you:
– You can’t compete with us. We are tall and strong, we have long legs, and you are small and slender, and you have short legs. We can run fast, but you can’t run fast. As you run slowly, you better sit and watch us.
“That’s not true,” says James. – I’m small, but I can run. Although it runs slowly, I can still run.
The boys watch the man in the white hat, holding a black and white flag, and looking at the watch on his wrist. Suddenly the man lowers the flag, the whistle blows and the race begins.
There are many guys participating in the race. The boys push James and he falls. Some of the boys even run over him! The race goes to the highway, where there are trucks and cars, people and bicycles. As this is a dangerous place, some of the competitors are waiting to cross.
Can you see Tiago? It’s at the back of the line, behind everyone else.
The boys cross the road and Number 1 goes ahead. A man on a bicycle comes up against him and throws him to the ground. Now Number 1 is sitting on the side of the road holding his ankle, and instead of smiling, he’s crying because he can’t run anymore. Number 2 takes the lead.
Can you see Tiago? It’s at the end of the line. The boys run along a path that follows the river. Number 2 goes ahead, but it is too close to the river. Number 3 runs to Number 2 and reaches out to push it! Number 2 falls into the river and although it can swim, it can no longer run.
Now Number 3 goes ahead. The other runners follow him, but some of the guys are already tired. Can you see Tiago? Come back, right behind all the other corridors. But although it runs slowly, it still runs. Suddenly Number 3 stops, sits down, and barefoot off. The shoe has a nail and the boy has to take off his sock and put a bandage on his foot. Cannot continue to run. Therefore, Numbers 4 and 5 pass to the front of the platoon. As they run so fast, we can’t see the other runners, and we can’t even see James.
There are dark clouds in the sky and the boys are looking at them. Suddenly it starts to rain a lot. The two front corridors take shelter under a tree and fail to see the other corridors. Number 6 moves forward and James continues behind everyone. But although it runs slowly, it still runs. Suddenly a dog with a big mouth and very sharp teeth appears, and Number 6 has to climb a tree and hold on tight. The dog jumps and tries to bite him. For Number 6, the race ends here.
Now Number 7 goes to the forefront and everyone follows. As for James, it’s still at the end of the line. Number 7 wears glasses that are slipping down his nose and eventually fall into the grass. The boy stops to look for his glasses, because he no longer sees. He is sitting on the grass, but the other boys run very fast and show no signs of slowing down.
Since James does not run fast, he stops to look for the Number 7 glasses. When he finds them, he hands them over.
“Take your glasses,” says James.
“Thanks,” thanks Number 7, who puts on his glasses.
However, he still can’t see and has to leave the race. Now Number 8 goes ahead and the other runners go behind. You can’t see James. Number 8 arrives at a gate and instead of opening it tries to jump it. Only, when jumping, hits with the right foot on the top of the grid. Right now, Number 8 is sitting on the floor, with his head in his hands. The other boys open the gate and pass Number 8 without stopping to help. James appears when one of the boys is about to close the gate.
– Hi! He says to Number 8. “What are you doing?”
– My head hurts! – complains the boy.
James helps you. Give her a bandage and Number 8 puts it on her head. Number 8 can’t run anymore. James continues to run. He is tired, has short legs, but continues to run. Number 9 goes ahead, but we can’t see the other guys. Number 9 is very tired and hot. Stop to buy an ice cream and a bottle of Coke. He sits under a tree and savors them. As he is tired and flushed, he falls asleep. The other runners pass by him and laugh.
– Look! Number 9 has fallen asleep! Do not wake him up!
And they keep running. James comes to the boy and instead of laughing tries to wake him up:
– Wake up! Remember you are in a race!
– Not! Answers Number 9. “I’m tired and hot.” I can’t run anymore.
Number 10 has taken the lead, but he, too, is tired and flushed. You can’t see the other corridors. When a bus stops on the street to let passengers in, Number 10 gets on the bus. The bus starts and the boy sits down and buys a ticket.
‘Since no one sees me,’ he says, smiling, ‘I can sit here. This way, I am no longer hot or tired.
But the bus goes in the opposite direction of the race route and Number 10 stops smiling, because it has just been eliminated. Three more corridors are seen. Everyone is tired and hot. However, they run fast. Suddenly they fail to see directions and take a different path. Also they get out of the race. Here comes Number 14. It’s hot and tired, but it runs fast.
“I’m the first one,” he says happily. – They’re all out of the race and James can’t catch me.
Smiling, he crosses the street, though the pedestrian traffic light has turned red. A policeman across the street tells him to stop.
– Don’t you see the red light? – Question to Number 14.
Then he takes a book out of his pocket and asks him:
– What is your name? Where you live?
And here comes James. As the pedestrian traffic light is green, you can cross the street. James goes through the police and Number 14 and comes first! Although small and slender, and unable to run fast, it comes first! In the goal, everyone applauds him:
– Angry, James! You are the winner!
James smiles happily. D. H. Howe The Big Race Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2001 (Translation and Adaptation)