The Tortoise and the Hare

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by Jerry Pinkney. Picture Book. 40 pages. Grades PreK-3.
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Review

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After his brilliant Caldecott winning The Lion & the Mouse Jerry Pinkney has followed it up with the story of "The Tortoise and the Hare." Here, we get a wonderful treatment of the familiar story of the speedy and overconfident hare racing against the slow but consistent tortoise told with sparse text and gorgeous artwork.

Setting the action in the US Southwest allows Pinkney to create beautiful rich colors in his characters and set them against the savory browns, yellows and golds of the terrain. Unlike The Lion & the Mouse, which is wordless, this tale has text, but it is very spare.

Here it's the artwork that grabs your attention, tells the story and delights us with the expressiveness of the characters and the overflowing exuberance of the action. Pinkney's animals are not cartoon-like and also, not exactly lifelike either.

The only real text is the moral which builds, word by word, throughout the race, "Slow," "Slow and," "Slow and steady," etc. Somehow this has the effect of thoroughly integrating the moral with the action as well as with the triumphant victory cry at the end, "Slow and steady wins the race!"


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Things to Talk About and Notice

  • It's fun to notice how he has included all the natural features of the creatures while also adding bits of clothing (the tortoise wears a train engineer's hat and a kerchief while the hare wears an auto racing checkered flag as a neck scarf) and, most importantly, human expressions and gestures. How does he find that balance, what makes it so beguilingly effective here?

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Related Books

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