In this jumped-up version of the fable, Hare is a hip city-dweller in shades and a tight jacket ("He was zippy, sometimes lippy,/ takin' taxis everywhere"), while Tortoise is a country bumpkin with peace signs all over his shell ("He was quite the mellow fellow/ chillin' out beside the pool"). When the two collide at a "happenin' county fair," they decide to race as part of the festivities. Forshay's (Frog and Pig) action-packed spreads depict dilly-dallying Hare as he paints a self-portrait and even performs a rock concert, dressed in Elvis-style threads. Golden hues and smudged outlines temper the animals' waxy veneer, while hallucinogenic moiré backgrounds amplify Hare's panic once he realizes that he's underestimated his competition. Despite some awkward phrasing ("Then he danced/ and he pranced/ till the crowd became entranced—/ as he rocked/ while he squawked/ making everybody shocked!"), Crow (Cool Daddy Rat) is mostly faithful to her metric rules. The lanky urbanite's bravado and the hoppy pace should insure that this retelling earns some read-aloud time. Ages 4–8. (Mar.)
In this version of the popular fable, Hare lives in the city and takes taxis everywhere while Tortoise enjoys a relaxing country life complete with a swimming pool. When the two bump heads at the county fair, "They shuffled/and they snuffled/and the felt a little ruffled." As a result, the tortoise challenges the hare to a race. An audience of farm animals cheers them on. The hare has several costume changes as he runs, rests, eats, sketches, scribbles, and performsfirst a tap dance, then an Elvis song. Tortoise does not don clothing, but has peace signs carved into his shell. When Tortoise wins the race by a nose, Hare is a bad loser. On the last page, the two are shown as buddies. The rhyming text apparently aims for a hip hop beat, but the rhythm is often rather rocky. Pre-reading before story time is recommended. The illustrations depict lively action and the personalities of the animals add delight. A fun choice when doing comparative studies of new adaptations of fables with traditional versions. Reviewer: Phyllis Kennemer, Ph.D.
Children's Literature - Phyllis Kennemer
PreS-Gr 2—A modern take on the classic tale. "Deep in the city/was a hip and happy hare./He was zippy, sometimes lippy,/takin' taxis everywhere." He bumps heads with country boy Tortoise at the happenin' county fair and they decide to settle their skirmish with a race. We all know how the contest turns out, but this retelling includes a rockin', rappin' rabbit who entertains himself and the crowd while the tortoise steadily plods on. This story is always a hit with younger children, and this version adds new punch to the familiar material. The punch, however, is a bit weak. While the rhythm and rhyme bring a hip-hop feel to the text, it seems a bit dated with its '70s references and slang; words such as "happenin'," "whooaahh," and "groovy" may be lost on today's readers. Forshay's illustrations, however, are appealing, especially Hare's many wardrobe changes. Readers will enjoy the details, such as the peace signs on Tortoise's shell and the crowd of barnyard animals cheering on the race. A fun read-aloud and a break from the routine moral, but still an optional purchase.—C. J. Connor, Campbell County Public Library, Cold Spring, KY
Crow clearly wants kids to move and groove with her new version of this beloved tale. What does this reincarnation bring? A syncopated hip-hop swing that has built-in action for listening and reading aloud. "Well, Hare, he really scurried / tho' he wasn't even worried / 'cause he left the silly tortoise in the dust." Unfortunately, the "swing" can be a bit temperamental, and an adult reader will need to go through the text silently to get the rhythm right, without sounding labored. The pacing cleverly mimics the story, with speedy and slow verses, a choice that is both artful and another potential slipup for oral reading. Preparation before reading is recommended. Propelling the story forward, however, is a positive energy that oozes from each spread. Visual homage is paid to Normal Rockwell, Michael Jordan, Fred Astaire and even Elvis. Bringing to mind a match-up between Franklin the Turtle and the Trix Cereal Rabbit, the illustrations give readers a wide view of the race, depict Hare's impending disaster up-close and treat them to a photo finish. The last phrase, "Hare mutters in disgust," provides the opportunity to discuss losing with grace. An entertaining choice that will introduce children to the fable and show those familiar with it how traditional tales can be expanded.
(Picture book. 3-8)