The true story of a racehorse that failed to win a single contest.
Thoroughbred racehorse Zippy Chippy comes from exalted bloodlines. But racehorse genes notwithstanding, Zippy is slow on the track and, the narrative implies, not terribly competitive. “Instead of running, Zippy sometimes stood perfectly still.” However, when he did (finally) finish a race, he “would prance off the course, head and tail held high.” So it’s confusing when the story then tells readers that his owner, Felix Monserrate, “felt that Zippy needed a win…to boost his morale” and tries various ways to turn Zippy into a winner. Zippy continues to race, and the quirky, pokey horse becomes a crowd favorite. At Zippy’s last race, his 100th, he takes a moment—after the starting bell—to bow to the crowd. (He finishes last.) Author Bennett’s ending salvo, “it takes guts to compete [and] courage to dream.…[Y]ou can lose…and still be a winner,” is rallying, but the body of the story doesn’t quite get there, instead placing more emphasis on Monserrate’s attempts to turn Zippy into a winner rather than validating Zippy’s quirky personality. Szalay’s full-color illustrations have a lively, angular appearance with well-thought-out perspectives and effectively utilize both full-page and double-page spreads. Monserrate is Puerto Rican, and other humans depicted are diverse.
Humorous enough in both text and illustrations, but the message is muddled. (author’s note, bibliography) (Informational picture book. 4-8)