The great race by Kevin O'Malley

cover image

Bloomsbury, 2011. ISBN 978 0 8027 2357 4.
(Ages 4+) Picture book. Humour. The race between the tortoise and the hare is given a new treatment in this funny parody of the original fable. The hare in this tale is a strutting sports star, beloved by the multitudes, receiving adulation wherever he goes. Sporting sunglasses, he wears the latest clothing, and tells everyone that he is the greatest. The tortoise can only try his best, doing exercises to increase his abilities and fitness, but practicing running by trotting to the pastry shop. When the big day comes, humour abounds as the snail beats the tortoise in his run along the road, and they both watch the hare in the foreground. But near the end, something happens which will cause gales of laughter from the young audience.
Humour is reflected in the charming illustrations. The hare is always surrounded by his loving fans, and each page showing Hare is full of animals, looking adoringly at their beloved, while each page showing the tortoise is quite bare, the tortoise is the central image, with few friends, a snail being his only companion. But the tortoise wins, and the readers will laugh out loud at the way he wins, and find humour in the situation the two animals find themselves in. A gentle story of doing your best, of the vacuousness of fandom, the story will engender much discussion about the readers' favourite sports star and the hollowness of fame. And of course, an astute teacher will use this story to compare it with the original fable, The tortoise and the hare.
Fran Knight