This companion to the Caldecott Medal-winning The Lion & the Mouse is Jerry Pinkney's most stunning masterpiece yet. Even the slowest tortoise can defeat the quickest hare, and even the proudest hare can learn a timeless lesson from the most humble tortoise: Slow and steady wins the race! Here is a superbly rendered journey from starting line to finish that embodies the bravery, perseverance, and humility we can all find inside ourselves.
*Starred Review* After his Caldecott triumph with The Lion & the Mouse (2009), Pinkney returns to Aesop for inspiration, this time setting the familiar story in the American Southwest. The endpapers indicate the race route around a cacti-laden barnyard, and the title page shows our titular competitors setting the challenge, before taking off, cheered on by a group of avid animal spectators. The fable plays out as expected, and Pinkney alternates the action between the tortoise’s diligence and the hare’s overconfidence. To mark the tortoise’s progress, Pinkney unveils the moral of the story cumulatively, beginning with just the word slow and adding another word to the phrase at each milestone, until, at contest’s end, the entire phrase “slow and steady wins the race” celebrates the tortoise’s victory. The tortoise sports an engineer’s cap and kerchief; the hare, a checkered vest; and most of the other animals, a variety of town and country clothing, adding a note of homespun vibrancy to Pinkney’s elegant watercolor paintings. Adjacent to an informative artist’s note, we see the hare tying a checkered flag about the tortoise’s neck, and the final endpapers depict a victory party. The tortoise may have won the race, but the real winner here is the listening and viewing audience. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Pinkney took home the Caldecott Medal for The Lion & the Mouse, so expect lots of buzz about this companion picture book. Preschool-Grade 3. --Thom Barthelmess, Booklist
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