The Tortoise or the Hare

( 1 )

Overview

Nobel Prize recipient Toni Morrison and Slade Morrison breathe new life into a classic Aesop’s fable.

In the well-known tale of “The Tortoise and the Hare,” everyone remembers that “slow and steady wins the race”—or does it? In this energetic retelling of a favorite fable, it’s the speedy Hare who crosses the finish line first, but it’s Tortoise who has the tale to tell when he discovers that the race, not the winning, is what matters most. While winning is important, isn’t ...

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Overview

Nobel Prize recipient Toni Morrison and Slade Morrison breathe new life into a classic Aesop’s fable.

In the well-known tale of “The Tortoise and the Hare,” everyone remembers that “slow and steady wins the race”—or does it? In this energetic retelling of a favorite fable, it’s the speedy Hare who crosses the finish line first, but it’s Tortoise who has the tale to tell when he discovers that the race, not the winning, is what matters most. While winning is important, isn’t making a true friend the best prize of all?

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In the Morrisons' updated version of this Aesop's fable, Jimi Hare and Jamey Tortoise try to spin their story with the media before the race. "But what story pleases your readers the most," Jamey asks a reporter, "the winner who loses or the loser who wins?" The reporter, an exuberant fox in a party dress, responds, "Oh, they're both important.... But for overall satisfaction, it's when the winner loses." After all the hype, the ending is remarkably anticlimactic--unlike in the original, Jimi comes in first, while Jamey plods in second. The traditional message about perseverance is lost to a murky idea about gaming the system to get what you want: the crown for Jimi, the headline for Jamey. Although the animals are portrayed as parallel misfits--outcast for their quick moves and quick mind--and would seem ideal companions, that development is left to a throwaway final scene. "It's not who wins," the authors conclude. "It's when the runners become good friends." The oil paintings by Cepeda (who illustrated the Morrisons' Peeny Butter Fudge) vibrate with life and color, providing much of the story's energy. Ages 4–8. (Sept.)
Children's Literature - Cheryl Williams Chang
Jimi Hare is the fastest hare around town. Whenever he raced anyone, he won. And because he always won, the other animals said he was no fun. Jamey Tortoise is the smartest tortoise around town. He could outsmart everyone. And because he was so smart, the other animals said he had no heart. One day a race was announced in town. The winner would receive a gold crown. Both Jimi and Jamey signed up. All the animals in town knew how the race was supposed to end, but this wasn't that story. Skill and knowledge can lead to surprising results. There is a little twist in the story that changes the ending. In this version of the tortoise and the hare, there are two winners and a new friendship results. Friendship, strategy, and speed are subjects covered in this fun read. Attractive illustrations and an easy-to-read font are incorporated in this picture book. This is a refreshing new idea about an old tale. Elementary schools will enjoy this book in a library or a social studies class. Reviewer: Cheryl Williams Chang
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
Kirkus Reviews
Authors and illustrator combine forces again in this umpteenth version of the classic tale (Peeny Butter Fudge, 2009). Neither Jimi Hare nor Jamey Tortoise is popular. J. Hare is too fast for anyone to keep up: His running is "too quick, / a trick!" J. Tortoise, on the other hand, is too smart: He's "too quick, / a trick!" In preparation for the coming race, Hare exercises and Tortoise strategizes. Both hold phone interviews with a foxy reporter, and then it's off to the starting line. J. Tortoise avails himself of trains and boats and planes while J. Hare performs stunts. There's no surprise at the finish line, only in the newspaper headline, which proclaims "Winner loses! Loser wins!" Both contestants are happy and go off hand in hand, because what matters is friendship—which, bafflingly, appears to erupt spontaneously at the end. The Morrisons seem to be sending messages about crafty news manipulation and the absurdity of athletic competition. But is this the appropriate audience? Cepeda's oil paintings are colorful and appropriately frenetic, but the story is just too diffuse and confusing. (Picture book. 4-7)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781416983347
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books
  • Publication date: 9/7/2010
  • Pages: 32
  • Sales rank: 592,776
  • Age range: 4 - 8 Years
  • Product dimensions: 10.38 (w) x 11.16 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Toni Morrison

Toni Morrison is a Nobel Prize–winning American author, editor, and professor. Her contributions to the modern canon are numerous. Some of her acclaimed titles include: The Bluest Eye, Song of Solomon, and Beloved, which won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1988. She won the Nobel Prize for Literature 1993.

Slade Morrison was born in Ohio and educated in New York City. He studied art at SUNY Purchase and collaborated with his mother, Toni Morrison, on five books for children.

Joe Cepeda is the illustrator of many award-winning picture books, including Peeny Butter Fudge and The Tortoise or the Hare by Toni Morrison and Slade Morrison, What a Truly Cool World by Julius Lester, Mice and Beans by Pam Muñoz Ryan, and Gracias the Thanksgiving Turkey by Joy Cowley. Mr. Cepeda received his BFA in illustration from California State University, Long Beach. His illustrations have appeared in publications such as the Los Angeles Times; Buzz, Inc. Magazine; and Latina Magazine.

Biography

Toni Morrison has been called "black America's best novelist," and her incredible string of imaginative contemporary classics would suggest that she is actually one of America's best novelists regardless of race. Be that as it may, it is indeed difficult to disconnect Morrison's work from racial issues, as they lie at the heart of her most enduring novels.

Growing up in Lorain, Ohio, a milieu Jet magazine described as "mixed and sometimes hostile," Morrison experienced racism firsthand. (When she was still a toddler, her home was set on fire with her family inside.) Yet, her father instilled in her a great sense of dignity, a cultural pride that would permeate her writing. She distinguished herself in school, graduating from Howard and Cornell Universities with bachelor's and master's degrees in English; in addition to her career as a writer, she has taught at several colleges and universities, lectured widely, and worked in publishing.

Morrison made her literary debut in 1970 with The Bluest Eye, the story of a lonely 11-year-old black girl who prays that God will turn her eyes blue, in the naïve belief that this transformation will change her miserable life. As the tale unfolds, her life does change, but in ways almost too tragic and devastating to contemplate. On its publication, the book received mixed reviews; but John Leonard of The New York Times recognized the brilliance of Morrison's writing, describing her prose as "...so precise, so faithful to speech and so charged with pain and wonder that the novel becomes poetry."

Over time, Morrison's talent became self-evident, and her reputation grew with each successive book. Her second novel, Sula, was nominated for a National Book Award; her third, 1977's Song of Solomon, established her as a true literary force. Shot through with the mythology and African-American folklore that informed Morrison's childhood in Ohio, this contemporary folktale is notable for its blending of supernatural and realistic elements. It was reviewed rapturously and went on win a National Book Critics Circle Award.

The culmination of Morrison's storytelling skills, and the book most often considered her masterpiece, is Beloved. Published in 1987 and inspired by an incident from history, this post-Civil War ghost story tells the story of Sethe, a former runaway slave who murdered her baby daughter rather than condemn her to a life of slavery. Now, 18 years later, Sethe and her family are haunted by the spirit of the dead child. Heartbreaking and harrowing, Beloved grapples with mythic themes of love and loss, family and freedom, grief and guilt, while excavating the tragic, shameful legacy of slavery. The novel so moved Morrison's literary peers that 48 of them signed an open letter published in The New York Times, demanding that she be recognized for this towering achievement. The book went on to win the Pulitzer Prize; and in 2006, it was selected by The New York Times as the single best work of American fiction published in the last 25 years.

In addition to her extraordinary novels, Morrison has also written a play, short stories, a children's book, and copious nonfiction, including essays, reviews, and literary and social criticism. While she has made her name by addressing important African-American themes, her narrative power and epic sweep have won her a wide and diverse audience. She cannot be dismissed as a "black writer" any more than we can shoehorn Faulkner's fiction into "southern literature." Fittingly, she received the Nobel Prize in 1993; perhaps the true power of her impressive body of work is best summed up in the Swedish Academy's citation, which reads: "To Toni Morrison, who, in novels characterized by visionary force and poetic import, gives life to an essential aspect of American reality."

Good To Know

Chloe Anthony Wofford chose to publish her first novel under the name Toni Morrison because she believed that Toni was easier to pronounce than Chloe. Morrison later regretted assuming the nom de plume.

In 1986, the first production of Morrison's sole play Dreaming Emmett was staged. The play was based on the story of Emmett Till, a black teen murdered by racists in 1955.

Morrison's prestigious status is not limited to her revered novels or her multitude of awards. She also holds a chair at Princeton University.

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    1. Also Known As:
      Chloe Anthony Wofford (real name)
      Toni Morrison
    2. Hometown:
      Princeton, New Jersey, and Manhattan
    1. Date of Birth:
      February 18, 1931
    2. Place of Birth:
      Lorain, Ohio
    1. Education:
      Howard University, B.A. in English, 1953; Cornell, M.A., 1955

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 13, 2012

    Gthh e evrbrg

    This is sooooooo awesome

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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