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Saturday, January 18, 2014

The Tortoise & The Hare, by Jerry Pinkney. Little, Brown and Company, Hachette. 2013. $20.00 ages 2 and up





       THE RACE!"

Oh my, that Jerry Pinkney! Aren't we lucky to share his vision for this timeless fable? The endpapers set the scene and allow readers to begin building excitement for what is to transpire. We're quick to note that the setting is a desert, abundant with cacti and critters. The race path is marked and the two main creatures are evident to all who are paying attention.

The title page is replete with the many animals set to be observers of the forthcoming action. A bobcat, a vulture, a grasshopper, and a badger are but a few of them. The hare has a challenging look in his eye as he speaks directly to the tortoise at the base of his tree stump. And so, the dare is delivered and the contest is set. The Fox will announce the start of the race!

The hare is quickly off, leaving the plodding tortoise in his dust. The tortoise's determination is evident in the set of his jaw, and the purpose in his eye. Those who have heard this tale know the outcome, but certainly getting there is the true delight of the lesson to be learned.

The detail and realism created by this brilliant artist make the reader feel as close to the race as the many creatures who grace its pages. Using mixed media he gives us characters and a setting that captivate and inform, and most assuredly entertains to our great delight. I have pored over the images on numerous 'readings' and each and every time I find something brand new. Amazing!

We know the story; but, we have never seen it quite like this. I love that the repetitive refrain of the lesson matches the pace and the perseverance of the forward-moving and relentless journey made by the tortoise. Despite the hare's last minute sprint, he is too late! He is not a sore loser. The final frame shows him tying the victor's scarf on his opponent's neck.  Bravo!

Don't miss a single splendid spread! I am sure the Caldecott Committee members are also taking a careful look at this worthy contender...

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