The Tortoise & the Hare

A well-crafted, charming read-aloud version of a famous tale about the importance of perseverance.

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A retelling of Aesop’s animal fable that features unusual rhythms.

When a “very special race” is announced, with the grand prize a golden cup, all the animals are excited to sign up—until the speedy, conceited hare decides to join in. Doubting their chances, the other participants quickly drop out, except for the tortoise, who says: “I’ll do my best. / That’s all. I can’t control the rest.” The hare laughs at the idea that the plodding tortoise could ever beat him. He’s so sure of himself, he takes breaks from the race, going for a swim, having a snack, and finally taking a nap sprawled up in a tree (an image that should make young readers giggle). Meanwhile, his opponent keeps going even when losing seems certain (“The tortoise reached the farm at last. / He grinned a little as he passed. / He felt reluctant to admit / He’d dearly love to rest a bit. / His energy was nearly spent. / Then someone cheered, so on he went”). When the tortoise finally catches up and wins, the hare feels “foolish, and lazy, and sad,” knowing he didn’t do his best. Lesson learned: “slow and steady wins the race.” Sinclair (The Golden Ball, 2016, etc.) makes this oft-told story unique by using alternating rhythms for the two protagonists: for the tortoise, the walking pace of iambic tetrameter—“The tortoise limped along the road. / His shell was such a heavy load.” The hare’s verses, on the other hand, use rapid, rollicking anapests: “As the hasty hare raced down that long country track, / He was suddenly tempted to search for a snack.” An author’s note at the end of the book explains the different meters and provides a link to Sinclair reading her own work. Her brightly colored illustrations have the bold outlines and textures of paper cutouts, and while the animals’ facial expressions are somewhat awkward, the hare’s long, lanky body contrasts with the tortoise’s sturdy frame in an echo of their respective rhythms. Overall, this delightful book is both a solid version of a classic story and a subtle introduction to the patterns of poetry.

A well-crafted, charming read-aloud version of a famous tale about the importance of perseverance.

Pub Date: May 2, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-937186-42-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Chthonicity Press

Review Posted Online: Oct. 18, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2017


The Buehners retell the old familiar tale with a jump-roping, rhyme-spouting Goldilocks. When their porridge proves to be too hot to eat, the bear family goes for a stroll. Meanwhile, Goldilocks comes knocking to find a jump-roping friend. This Goldilocks does not simply test out the chairs: “Big chair, middle chair, little chair, too, / Somebody’s here to bounce on you!” And so continues the old favorite, interspersed with Goldilocks’s jump-rope verse. When she escapes through the bedroom window, none of the characters are sure what sort of creature they have just encountered. The Buehner’s homey illustrations perfectly capture the facial expressions of the characters, and lend a particular kind of mischief to Goldilocks. Readers may miss the message on the copyright page, but hidden within each picture are three creatures, instantly adding challenge and appeal. Cute, but there’s not quite enough new here to make it a must. (Picture book. 3-8)

Pub Date: March 1, 2007

ISBN: 0-8037-2939-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2007


The seemingly ageless Seeger brings back his renowned giant for another go in a tuneful tale that, like the art, is a bit sketchy, but chockful of worthy messages. Faced with yearly floods and droughts since they’ve cut down all their trees, the townsfolk decide to build a dam—but the project is stymied by a boulder that is too huge to move. Call on Abiyoyo, suggests the granddaughter of the man with the magic wand, then just “Zoop Zoop” him away again. But the rock that Abiyoyo obligingly flings aside smashes the wand. How to avoid Abiyoyo’s destruction now? Sing the monster to sleep, then make it a peaceful, tree-planting member of the community, of course. Seeger sums it up in a postscript: “every community must learn to manage its giants.” Hays, who illustrated the original (1986), creates colorful, if unfinished-looking, scenes featuring a notably multicultural human cast and a towering Cubist fantasy of a giant. The song, based on a Xhosa lullaby, still has that hard-to-resist sing-along potential, and the themes of waging peace, collective action, and the benefits of sound ecological practices are presented in ways that children will both appreciate and enjoy. (Picture book. 5-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-689-83271-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2001

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