A slightly fractured fable works too hard to appeal to an adult audience and leaves children in the dust.
Nate Tortoise is tired of hearing about the celebrity hare Lever Lapin. He is the talk of the town, the chatter fueled by the hare himself. Even at the tortoise’s favorite restaurant, La Gaganspew, he is re-seated to make way for the hopping megastar. Reacting to the ubiquitous barrage, Nate challenges Lever to the inevitable race. The rest is history—repeated. Although this story is always a favorite of young readers, the new twist found here is a bit odd. With obvious disdain for the celebrity phenomenon, O’Malley provides additional meat to the story: The swarm of fans pinning the hare to the wall is the reason Lever loses the race. The text is laced with biting, mature humor. “You’ve got the brains of a four-year-old and I’ll bet he’s glad to be rid of it.” Even the play on words at the book’s end (a headline reads, "BETTER NATE THAN LEVER") is a stretch for young minds, albeit entertaining for adult readers. O'Malley's ink-and-watercolor cartoons echo the adult tone, depicting sneers and jaded expressions on the faces of the principals.
An updated but optional version of this ubiquitous tale. (Picture book. 4-8)