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

The Tortoise & the Hare

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

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NIM'S ISLAND

A child finds that being alone in a tiny tropical paradise has its ups and downs in this appealingly offbeat tale from the Australian author of Peeling the Onion (1999). Though her mother is long dead and her scientist father Jack has just sailed off on a quick expedition to gather plankton, Nim is anything but lonely on her small island home. Not only does she have constant companions in Selkie, a sea lion, and a marine iguana named Fred, but Chica, a green turtle, has just arrived for an annual egg-laying—and, through the solar-powered laptop, she has even made a new e-mail friend in famed adventure novelist Alex Rover. Then a string of mishaps darkens Nim’s sunny skies: her father loses rudder and dish antenna in a storm; a tourist ship that was involved in her mother’s death appears off the island’s reefs; and, running down a volcanic slope, Nim takes a nasty spill that leaves her feverish, with an infected knee. Though she lives halfway around the world and is in reality a decidedly unadventurous urbanite, Alex, short for “Alexandra,” sets off to the rescue, arriving in the midst of another storm that requires Nim and companions to rescue her. Once Jack brings his battered boat limping home, the stage is set for sunny days again. Plenty of comic, freely-sketched line drawings help to keep the tone light, and Nim, with her unusual associates and just-right mix of self-reliance and vulnerability, makes a character young readers won’t soon tire of. (Fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: March 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-375-81123-0

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2000

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Simple, bella, un regalo permenente: simple and beautiful, a gift that will stay.

HOW TÍA LOLA CAME TO (VISIT) STAY

From the Tía Lola Stories series , Vol. 1

Renowned Latin American writer Alvarez has created another story about cultural identity, but this time the primary character is 11-year-old Miguel Guzmán. 

When Tía Lola arrives to help the family, Miguel and his hermana, Juanita, have just moved from New York City to Vermont with their recently divorced mother. The last thing Miguel wants, as he's trying to fit into a predominantly white community, is a flamboyant aunt who doesn't speak a word of English. Tía Lola, however, knows a language that defies words; she quickly charms and befriends all the neighbors. She can also cook exotic food, dance (anywhere, anytime), plan fun parties, and tell enchanting stories. Eventually, Tía Lola and the children swap English and Spanish ejercicios, but the true lesson is "mutual understanding." Peppered with Spanish words and phrases, Alvarez makes the reader as much a part of the "language" lessons as the characters. This story seamlessly weaves two culturaswhile letting each remain intact, just as Miguel is learning to do with his own life. Like all good stories, this one incorporates a lesson just subtle enough that readers will forget they're being taught, but in the end will understand themselves, and others, a little better, regardless of la lengua nativa—the mother tongue.

Simple, bella, un regalo permenente: simple and beautiful, a gift that will stay. (Fiction. 9-11)

Pub Date: March 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-375-80215-0

Page Count: 160

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2001

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