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Is There Really a Human Race?
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Is There Really a Human Race?

4.8 7
by Jamie Lee Curtis, Laura Cornell (Illustrator)

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Is there really a human race?
Is it going on now all over the place?
When did it start?
Who said, "Ready, Set, Go"?
Did it start on my birthday?
I really must know.

With these questions, our hero's imagination is off and running. Is the human race an obstacle course? Is it a spirit? Does he get his own lane? Does he get his own coach?


Is there really a human race?
Is it going on now all over the place?
When did it start?
Who said, "Ready, Set, Go"?
Did it start on my birthday?
I really must know.

With these questions, our hero's imagination is off and running. Is the human race an obstacle course? Is it a spirit? Does he get his own lane? Does he get his own coach? Is There Really a Human Race? is all about relishing the journey and making good choices along the way -- because how we live and how we love is how we learn to make the world a better place, one small step at a time.

Editorial Reviews

Jamie Lee Curtis's stellar film and TV acting career might have attracted some parents to her early children's books, but there is no mistaking that their phenomenal popularity is being fueled now by the unbridled enthusiasm of the small set. Curtis's sprightly stories mesh perfectly with the lively informality of Laura Cornell's artwork. In Is There Really a Human Race?, they pose a question of undeniable significance in a pleasingly peculiar way.
Publishers Weekly
This circuitous tale from the creators of It's Hard to Be Five opens with a series of questions: "Is there really/ a human race?/ Is it going on now all over the place?/ When did it start?/ Who said, `Ready, Set, Go'?/ Did it start on my birthday?/ I really must know." Cornell quickly livens up the proceedings, however, with a spread of newborns lined up in a nursery, suggesting clues to their futures. One sunglasses-sporting infant holds an Oscar statuette, another chews on the tassel of a graduation cap. The relay race metaphor plays out as Cornell pictures a diverse spectrum of people dashing about madly, and the narrator poses more questions: "Is the race like a loop/ or an obstacle course?/ Am I a jockey,/ or am I a horse?" After asking why he is doing "this zillion-yard dash," the lad observes that if we don't help each other, we're all going to "crash." Switching to the mother's perspective, the narrative emphasizes the importance of taking one's time, trying one's best ("that's more important than beating the rest") and making the world a better place "for the whole human race." Curtis's message has merit, yet its singsong delivery seems muddled. Yet fans of this duo may well be carried along by Cornell's bustling, whimsical art, overflowing with quirky particulars that celebrate the diversity of people everywhere. All ages. (Sept.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature - Beverley Fahey
If life is a race, when did it start, is it a race against friends, is it a loop or obstacle course, is it okay to push ahead, and is it a sprint or a dash? These are just some of the questions a little boy ponders as he reflects on his role in the human race. His mother offers sage advice ...don't go to fast so you can't enjoy the sights, lend a helping hand to those who stumble, speak up for those who can't, and "make friends and love well." Curtis puts a humorous spin on her message that proves that life is a journey and not a race, and it is everyone's responsibility to make good choices. Bold, colorful paintings capture all the charm and rhythm of the lyrical text. From babies lined up in nursery bassinettes, each with a distinct personality, to the frenzy of the race with its swirl of action in the chaotic moments before the CRASH, the momentum builds and then resolves in a calm and peaceful conclusion. Quirky details and multiethnic caricatures fill the pages. Another solid hit from a winning team. Fun for all ages.
School Library Journal
K-Gr 3-Curtis writes so very well, in infectious toe-tapping poetic form, of the inner thoughts and worries that children struggle with all too frequently. Here, a boy asks his mother the title question. He continues, "If the race is unfair, will I succeed?" His mother tells her son that it's often better to help others and make the world a better place than to win first place in a foot race. Cornell's ink-and-color wash cartoons are a perfect match to Curtis's lilting text. The detailed spreads will fascinate young readers. For instance, on the page on which the child asks, "-is Dad on my team?" the illustrations show his father, grandad, and a multitude of ancestors back to cavemen. When he worries about making the wrong turn, a maze full of children of different ethnicities is depicted. This book should be enjoyed by the whole human race.-Alice DiNizo, Plainfield Public Schools, NJ Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Teammates Curtis and Cornell have once again produced a winningly simple yet profound picture book that uses a play on the word "race" to ask, through a variety of child-posed questions, about the significant competition we all face as humans. What's the race all about? When did it start? How does one compete and train? What about winning or losing? The second half of Curtis's rhyming ode to humanity concludes with a series of responses pointing out everyone's responsibility to "just try your best" and help one another "make the world better for the whole human race." Cornell's signature full-color cartoon illustrations with hand-lettered text comically portray a variety of contests the young hero imagines with angst and concern as he continues to wonder. Sound philosophy ingeniously expressed in an amusing and insightful way that both youngsters can understand and we older folk should heed. (Picture book. 5-10)

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
11.10(w) x 9.60(h) x 0.50(d)
Age Range:
4 - 8 Years

Meet the Author

Jamie Lee Curtis has had many firsts: her first (and only) marriage to Christopher Guest, her first time holding her children, Annie and Tom, her first time pretending to be a customer in an episode of Quincy, and her first time she wrote words that became her first book. She lives in Los Angeles, the first city she ever lived in, and is always first in line, first to arrive, first to leave, and first to sleep.

Laura Cornell lives in New York City with her daughter, Lily (first and only), but they spend much time in California, Laura's first state in her first home. She was asked to illustrate Jamie's first book, and that became ten. Lucky is the first word that comes to mind.

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Is There Really a Human Race 4.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 7 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book has many good points concerning children, but also concerning how parents might do things differently as well.
Guest More than 1 year ago
What a great book! I really, really enjoyed the prose and illustrations, and so did my grand-nieces. The message is also very clear. My older nephew kept trying to explain the 'race' and offered his own advice based on the questions asked by the book's babies. I think Jamie Lee has done another wonderful job of imparting loving philosophy while entertaining the youngest hearts.
Guest More than 1 year ago
'Is There Really a Human Race?', the seventh collaboration between the bestselling kids¿ lit super duo of actress-turned-author Jamie Lee Curtis and illustrator Laura Cornell, begins with a curious young boy begging the titular question of his mother. What follows is an allegorical exploration of the difference between the more literal meaning of running a race and that metaphorical footrace that adults know as life. Along the way, readers old and young alike are treated to Cornell¿s delightful artistic renderings of cherub-faced infants and toddlers donning sportswear and training for life¿s big race, their tiny chests emblazoned with their racer¿s number, while Curtis¿ lyrical prose gives authentic voice to the anxiety of childhood competition. For cynics who dismiss the talent needed to create engaging and entertaining children¿s literature, 'Is There Really a Human Race?' proves that there is tremendous heart-and-soul insight beneath the whimsical water-colored drawings and rhyming snippets of words. The message that life should not be measured in awards and winnings but rather in the choices we make and the hands that we lend to others along the way is an adult one. That Curtis and Cornell can present such a mature concept in such an engagingly simple way as to allow young minds to wrap themselves around it is no small feat and speaks admirably of their ample talent as creators of quality children¿s literature. For the denizens of Curtis and Cornell¿s luck-number-seven tome, it¿s all about the human connections we make and how we make them that counts in the end.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love all of Jamie Lee Curtis's books. I am a teacher and use her books for lessons and for fun reading. The illustrations are always fun and I love the books as much as the students.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
I loved this book and I just turned 24! It was very befitting of recent changes in my life, and of who I am. It'd recommend this book for anyone of any age.