THE MUD FLAT OLYMPICS by James Stevenson


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The animals' sports meet is the most good-natured of field days, from the eagerly anticipated arrival of the opossum Burbank with the torch to the celebratory picnic when Ardsley and Hastings (elephants) sing a duet as the others drift contentedly off to sleep. Like those at any school, the contestants' shapes and capabilities are diverse: Old Mr. Crenshaw (a mole) paces himself in the ""Deepest Hole Contest"" (""I save my best digging for the end"") and finally has to drop out (""I'm pooped...I gave it my best shot""). Judgments evolve sensibly in process (since no one can actually see the moles' tunnels, the one who says he got to where ""everybody was speaking Chinese"" is declared the winner). When several snails are impeded in the high hurdles not only by their natural pace but also by their leisurely chatting, the judge takes a lunch break only to find all the contestants on the finish line when he returns. As much fun as the ongoing banter are the names and amiably idiosyncratic characterizations, splendidly extended in Stevenson's (Fun/No Fun, p. 637, etc.) depictions in watercolor and his free-flowing line; there are deliciously comical vignettes on each easily read page. A lovely early chapter book that adults will find difficult to resist sharing aloud.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1994
Page count: 56pp
Publisher: Greenwillow