In Indonesian and Malaysian folklore, Kanchil the mouse deer (an animal about the same size as a rabbit) is a trickster character who usually outwits his fellow animals. Here he stars in a tale similar to Aesop’s "The Tortoise and the Hare."
In this third tale in Scott's series about the character (Mangoes and Bananas, 2006, etc.), Kanchil invites the other animals to a race. Surely he can run faster than Gajah the elephant, Babi the boar, Harimau the wicked tiger, Kerbau the water buffalo and Buwaya the crocodile, who has "fast moving jaws." When Kakatua, the scarlet macaw, announces the race, none of the animals enter, except for Pelan the snail. Pelan outsmarts Kanchil not once, but twice, but only the readers, not the animals, will ever find out how. Tara Publishing champions the talents of Indian folk artists and has paired this very accessible story with dramatic images in a specialized style originally used for Gujarati religious cloth paintings. Though there's no claim that this art style has any relationship to the original tale, it's an apt match. The book designer adapted the work to the printed page, keeping the intense blood red and ebony black. Each double-page spread takes on an exciting life of its own. A note provides background information on the tale, and an afterword tells the story of the illustrations with photographs of the original cloths.
This unusual multicultural pairing packs a powerful punch. (Picture book/folklore. 4-8)