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The Tortoise or the Hare Hardcover – September 7, 2010
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From School Library Journal
Gr 1-3–Jimi Hare is fast and Jamey Tortoise is smart. Everyone avoids them, calls them names, and demeans their talents as tricks. When Jimi and Jamey sign up for a race, one practices while the other plans. The tortoise is told that reversals, such as the winner who loses, make the most satisfying newspaper story. The hare hears that the largest crowd gets more attention than the loudest cheers. On the day of the race, the tortoise travels on bus, train, and plane, while the hare dances, runs, and invents new stunts to draw the crowd. Though Jimi Hare crosses the finish line first, all who know Aesop's fable understand the headline–“WINNER LOSES! LOSER WINS!” Giving a new twist to an old tale, these two lonely and talented characters eventually become friends. Any reading of this tale will depend on knowledge of Aesop's fable. Illustrations are rendered in oil paints showing bright animated characters against textured backgrounds. Occasional rhymes (“Because he always won, they said he was no fun”) enliven the text. This contemporary retelling should spark interesting discussions.Mary Jean Smith, Southside Elementary School, Lebanon, TN
© Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
The mother-son team here delivers another Aesop update, grappling with the loaded subjects of winning, losing, and getting good press coverage. Jimi the Hare is introduced as the fastest creature around and Jamey the Tortoise as the smartest. Everyone avoids them, calling them “show-off,” “stuck-up,” and “stupid know-it-all,” but Cepeda’s exuberant, unfussy paintings feature the two animals as content loners. When a race is announced in the newspaper, though, they both sign up, get ready, and contact the paper, offering to give interviews. On race day, Jimi entertains the crowd with acrobatic stunts, while Jamey gets on a bus, a train, a boat, and a plane. Even with that help, Jimi Hare still wins. The paper’s next-day headline reads “Winner Loses! Loser Wins!” because the reporter was expecting the outcome of the original Aesop fable. Fun stuff, though the feel-good ending—Jimi and Jamey hold hands above text that reads, “It’s not who wins. It’s when the runners become good friends”—seems a bit tacked on. When did they have a chance to bond? Preschool-Grade 2. --Abby Nolan
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I would not recommend this version.