The Great Race

Overview

Nate Tortoise is tired of living in the shadow of Lever Lapin. He can't go anywhere or do anything without hearing about the great exploits of that pesky hare. And Lever's head has grown to match the size of his entourage. It isn't until Nate challenges Lever to a race that this hare is put in his place . . . giving new meaning to the phrase "slow and steady wins the race." Kevin O'Malley fans will cheer all the way to the finish line for this clever twist on the beloved fable.

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Overview

Nate Tortoise is tired of living in the shadow of Lever Lapin. He can't go anywhere or do anything without hearing about the great exploits of that pesky hare. And Lever's head has grown to match the size of his entourage. It isn't until Nate challenges Lever to a race that this hare is put in his place . . . giving new meaning to the phrase "slow and steady wins the race." Kevin O'Malley fans will cheer all the way to the finish line for this clever twist on the beloved fable.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Vanity proves the Achilles heel for a boastful bunny in O'Malley's (Animal Crackers Fly the Coop) sprightly retelling of the Tortoise and the Hare fable. Nate Tortoise has had his fill of everyone raving about Lever Lapin, the greatest runner in the world. And when Nate overhears Lapin tell reporters "I find myself fascinating.... I am so beautiful that when I look at myself I scream with joy," it's all too much. Nate challenges Lever to a race to put him in his place. When Lever, far in the lead, stops to sign autographs and bask in his fans' praise, readers will know what's next. O'Malley gives the familiar plot some zip via the taunting dialogue between Nate and Lever, as well as funny asides from observers ("He's so slow, he's gonna get a parking ticket!" quips a slug). The ink-and-watercolor illustrations, depicting an almost Parisian setting, keep the contest interesting, too. Fans of O'Malley's brand of silly wordplay won't be disappointed: from Nate's favorite restaurant, La Gaganspew, to a final pun on the characters names, it's evident throughout. Ages 4–8. (June)
Children's Literature - Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
In this version of the tale of the tortoise and the hare, the rabbit character, Lever Lapin, is a world-famous, egotistical runner. Nate Tortoise is tired of hearing about him. He is really annoyed when the hare enters the restaurant where Nate is eating, taking over Nate's table and boasting away. Nate boldly challenges him to a race. After a week of training, Nate begins slowly as Lever Lapin takes off down the road. Of course the hare takes time off to show off for the crowd. Then he stops for a bite at La Gaganspew, and to sign autographs. By the time he spots Nate through the window, it is too late to get through the crowd. Nate wins. The next day he reads with satisfaction the newspaper headline, "BETTER NATE THAN LEVER!" Watercolors and FW ink create anthropomorphic animals brimming with personality, in just enough settings to support the comedy. The brief text is enhanced with bantering, rectangular speech balloons, and large bold typeface. A couple of extreme close-ups of Lever are particularly engaging as they leave us in no doubt about his egocentricity. This fresh take on an old story has added humor. Reviewer: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
School Library Journal
K-Gr 3—O'Malley offers a "hare-brained" retelling of the fabled race between the hare and the tortoise or, in this case, Lever Lapin and Nate Tortoise. With broad good humor, readers meet the empty-headed, boastful hare and a curmudgeonly tortoise who just wants to enjoy a meal at his favorite restaurant, La Gaganspew, and "never hear the name Lapin again." Of course, he hears of nothing else about this much-publicized hare, until Lapin shows up with 20 or so personal assistants and Nate is moved to a table near the kitchen. Nate is overheard muttering that he could beat Lapin in a race, and in short order the famous contest is on. There's little question of what the outcome will be, but along the way O'Malley pokes fun at celebrity and hero worship. There's plenty of fun wordplay and broad puns, and the watercolor and ink drawings capture all the silly goings-on. This is an entertaining version of a timeless fable. Readers who've enjoyed O'Malley's Animal Crackers Fly the Coop (2010) and Gimme Cracked Corn & I Will Share (2007, both Walker) will relish this offering.—Marilyn Taniguchi, Beverly Hills Public Library, CA
Kirkus Reviews

A slightly fractured fable works too hard to appeal to an adult audience and leaves children in the dust.

Nate Tortoise is tired of hearing about the celebrity hare Lever Lapin. He is the talk of the town, the chatter fueled by the hare himself.Even at the tortoise's favorite restaurant, La Gaganspew, he is re-seated to make way for the hopping megastar. Reacting to the ubiquitous barrage, Nate challenges Lever to the inevitable race. The rest is history—repeated. Although this story is always a favorite of young readers, the new twist found here is a bit odd. With obvious disdain for the celebrity phenomenon, O'Malley provides additional meat to the story:The swarm of fans pinning the hare to the wall is the reason Lever loses the race. The text is laced with biting, mature humor. "You've got the brains of a four-year-old and I'll bet he's glad to be rid of it." Even the play on words at the book's end (a headline reads, "BETTER NATE THAN LEVER") is a stretch for young minds, albeit entertaining for adult readers. O'Malley's ink-and-watercolor cartoons echo the adult tone, depicting sneers and jaded expressions on the faces of the principals.

An updated but optional version of this ubiquitous tale.(Picture book. 4-8)

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780802721587
  • Publisher: Walker & Company
  • Publication date: 6/21/2011
  • Pages: 32
  • Age range: 4 - 8 Years
  • Product dimensions: 11.10 (w) x 8.60 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

KEVIN O'MALLEY is the coauthor and illustrator of the popular Miss Malarkey series as well as the award-winning Once Upon a Cool Motorcycle Dude and the author/illustrator of the national bestseller Gimme Cracked Corn & I Will Share.

www.booksbyomalley.com

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