From School Library Journal
PreS-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, NYα(c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
*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