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Friday, July 8, 2016

Hare and Tortoise, written and illustrated by Alison Murray. Candlewick Press, Random House. 2016. $22.00 ages 3 and up

"Meet Hare.

Hare can barely stay still
for a minute, but he can:
- Run through the tickliest grass
- Rush around rivers and ponds
- Dash over misty meadows
(And he has NEVER been known
to resist a carrot.)"
"I'm the fastest on the farm.
"No one can beat me," says Hare."

I have always loved to share retellings with kids. When I was teaching in early years classrooms I wanted my kids to see that stories could be told in many ways, and to give them mentor texts for their own imaginative writing. We would try to find a collection of books telling versions of the same story to see how authors used old stories to tell new ones. As a librarian, I continually added to the collection I shared in many classrooms. We had great fun comparing and contrasting the various versions.

To that end, I want to tell you about this new and modern look at an old Aesop fable about being slow and steady in the way you go about things. The result can be quite a surprise to yourself and to everyone else ... especially the braggart who was so sure he had no need to worry, or hurry.

Hare is constantly on the move, taking a break only long enough for readers to get to know him a bit better (as evidenced in the above quote from the book). Tortoise is the polar opposite of Hare, almost indistinguishable from the nearest rock. The race between the two seems, as always, to signal an easy win for Hare. You know better, right?

Do you remember that Hare has an inability to keep away from carrots. Lo and behold, a carrot field is positioned perfectly between the starting line in the meadow and the finish line at the pink barn. Too much temptation!

Ms. Murray's digital illustrations are jaunty and engaging. I love the descriptions of the opponents, the map of the race, and the race course and comparable speeds presented on endpapers. The final image of the two enjoying  post-race sustenance in the lettuce patch is faultless!

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