The Tortoise & the Hare

illus. by author. 40p. Little, Brown. Oct. 2013. Tr $18. ISBN 978-0-316-18356-7. LC 2012048426.
RedReviewStarPreS-Gr 3—Following up on his superb rendition of The Lion & the Mouse (Little, Brown, 2009), Pinkney has created yet another stunning interpretation of a classic tale in this virtually wordless picture book. Endpapers establish the desert setting with a map of the course through the cacti and rocky region of the American Southwest. Tortoise and Hare, each sporting a bandana, are joined by their animal friends at the starting line for the famous race. Fox in his broad-brimmed hat gives them their marks, gets them set, and off they go as Hare bounds away, leaving Tortoise behind in a trail of dust. Pinkney uses watercolor, colored pencil, and pastel paintings to create vibrant characters that are in colorful contrast to the tans and natural browns of the desert. Long horizontal lines and Hare leaping off the page propel the story-and the race-ever forward. The limited text, used sparingly but extremely effectively, reinforces the theme of the story-that the journey is as important as the ultimate goal-and builds one word at a time: "slow," "slow and," "slow and steady" until finally the race is won to the cheers and high-fives of the supportive spectators. Pinkney takes care to show Tortoise overcoming challenges and Hare demonstrating good sportsmanship and healthy competition. An artist's note explains the creative process and motivation for retelling the well-known tale. This spectacular success is certain to become a classic in its own right.—Kristine M. Casper, Huntington Public Library, NY
In a worthy follow-up to his Caldecott-winning The Lion & the Mouse (rev. 11/09), Pinkney brilliantly illustrates another well-known Aesop fable. Like its nearly wordless predecessor, this one, too, requires readers to interpret the pictures, as the hare famously challenges the tortoise to a race and then naps through the better part of it. Tortoise's plodding journey across a desert landscape shows a host of critters native to the American Southwest cheering him on, including a bobcat, peccary, Gila monster, alligator, packrat, and vulture. All of the animals wear hats, bandanas, or vests, and in his author's note Pinkney tells us he made this choice so they would stand out, rather than blending in with their environment as they do in the real world. The tortoise himself wears a blue engineer's cap and red bandana in what may be an homage to an earlier work illustrated by Pinkney, John Henry (rev. 11/94). The richly detailed illustrations are lively and humorous, but what makes this retelling particularly ingenious is Pinkney's use of the oft-quoted moral in a cumulative progression both to recount the action and provide dramatic tension: "Slow / slow and / slow and steady / slow and steady wins / slow and steady wins the / slow and steady wins the race!" kathleen t. horning

Be the first reader to comment.

Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing