Reviews for Great Race

Booklist Reviews 2011 April #1
Yes, it's another hare-and-tortoise interpretation. But even without the ironic twist of most modern takes on traditional tales, this stands out as one of the better ones. Lever Lapin is the name of the world's greatest runner--so great, in fact, that he has penned an autobiography entitled Fast Feet and Amazing Good Looks. Sick of the fawning fans who follow the ascot-wearing rabbit everywhere, Nate Tortoise challenges Lever to a race. Naturally, Nate gets left in the dust almost immediately. He keeps on chugging, though, and ends up sneaking past Lever hours later while the rabbit is signing autographs and being his usual humble self: "And ladies, please, only one kiss for each of you." Working in watercolor and ink, O'Malley makes fine use of the wide trim, alternating sprawling crowd shots with extreme close-ups that really distill the mano a mano dislike brewing between the opponents. A simple tale, enjoyably told, with a fabulous punch line: "Better Nate than Lever." Copyright 2011 Booklist Reviews.

Horn Book Guide Reviews 2011 Fall
In this "Tortoise and the Hare" retelling, nothing gets on Nate Tortoise's nerves more than the gloating of celebrity racer Lever Lapin. Nate, fed up, inadvertently challenges Lever to a race; the rest is history. Contemporary details including personal assistants, paparazzi, and overzealous fans add some humor (for adults more than kids). Watercolor and ink illustrations display Nate's frustration and Lever's braggadocio. Copyright 2011 Horn Book Guide Reviews.

Kirkus Reviews 2011 May #2

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)

Copyright Kirkus 2011 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

Publishers Weekly Reviews 2011 April #3

Vanity proves the Achilles heel for a boastful bunny in O'Malley's (Animal Crackers Fly the Coop) sprightly retelling of the Tortoise and the Hare fable. Nate Tortoise has had his fill of everyone raving about Lever Lapin, the greatest runner in the world. And when Nate overhears Lapin tell reporters "I find myself fascinating.... I am so beautiful that when I look at myself I scream with joy," it's all too much. Nate challenges Lever to a race to put him in his place. When Lever, far in the lead, stops to sign autographs and bask in his fans' praise, readers will know what's next. O'Malley gives the familiar plot some zip via the taunting dialogue between Nate and Lever, as well as funny asides from observers ("He's so slow, he's gonna get a parking ticket!" quips a slug). The ink-and-watercolor illustrations, depicting an almost Parisian setting, keep the contest interesting, too. Fans of O'Malley's brand of silly wordplay won't be disappointed: from Nate's favorite restaurant, La Gaganspew, to a final pun on the characters names, it's evident throughout. Ages 4-8. (June)

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School Library Journal Reviews 2011 May

K-Gr 3--O'Malley offers a "hare-brained" retelling of the fabled race between the hare and the tortoise or, in this case, Lever Lapin and Nate Tortoise. With broad good humor, readers meet the empty-headed, boastful hare and a curmudgeonly tortoise who just wants to enjoy a meal at his favorite restaurant, La Gaganspew, and "never hear the name Lapin again." Of course, he hears of nothing else about this much-publicized hare, until Lapin shows up with 20 or so personal assistants and Nate is moved to a table near the kitchen. Nate is overheard muttering that he could beat Lapin in a race, and in short order the famous contest is on. There's little question of what the outcome will be, but along the way O'Malley pokes fun at celebrity and hero worship. There's plenty of fun wordplay and broad puns, and the watercolor and ink drawings capture all the silly goings-on. This is an entertaining version of a timeless fable. Readers who've enjoyed O'Malley's Animal Crackers Fly the Coop (2010) and Gimme Cracked Corn & I Will Share (2007, both Walker) will relish this offering.--Marilyn Taniguchi, Beverly Hills Public Library, CA

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