A Nigerian folktale about a hippo, an elephant, and a hare is retold by Burningham, 45 years after it was first published as The Extraordinary Tug-of-War, with text by Letta Schatz. Now, with the original illustrations and a brand-new text, Burningham spins his own version of three animals who live together in the forest. Hippopotamus and Elephant tease Hare mercilessly—“Hare, you are a feeble idiot, with your twitching nose and whiskers”—until Hare gets fed up and concocts a plan. He challenges both to a game of tug-of-war; but instead of being on the other end of the rope, he sets it up so that Hippopotamus and Elephant are struggling against each other. It’s a classic brains-over-brawn tale, made memorable by Burningham’s signature illustrations and witty text (poor Hare is called everything from a “little runt” to a “little weed”). It’s oh-so-satisfying when quick-moving Hare gets the last laugh, and Burningham’s many fans will be happy (hoppy?) to introduce this spiffed-up story to a new generation. Grades K-3. --Ann Kelley
Burningham’s new text is typically unsentimental; school-age boys will probably find it outrageously funny.
—The New York Times Book Review