Reviews for Race of the Century

Kirkus Reviews 2007 December #1
Once again, "slow and steady" leads to a "Bad Hare Day." Grumbling Tom Tortoise slips on a sweatband and squares off against sleekly furred but human-shaped Flash Harry Hare as the citizens of Critterville and--thanks to "Don Key's Wide World of Sports"--TV audiences around the world look on in wide-eyed excitement. Downard gives the old fable a frenetic cast, with digitally reworked photo montages that spill past page edges and feature livestock, billboards, newspaper headlines, articles of sportswear and more jammed into the foregrounds. The writing is less sophisticated than the art--"Snoozing Flash Harry Hare woke with a start, at the exact same moment Tom Tortoise was about to finish!"--and like Margery Cuyler's Road Signs: A Harey Race With A Tortoise, illustrated by Steven Haskamp (2000), or Downard's own version of the "Little Red Hen" (2004), this iteration will appeal most to readers already familiar with the basic story. (Picture book/folktale. 6-8) Copyright Kirkus 2007 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.

School Library Journal Reviews 2008 February

PreS-Gr 5-- In this companion to The Little Red Hen (S & S, 2004), Downard applies his quirky sense of humor to the famous showdown between the Tortoise and the Hare. Here he plays with the conventions of the news media (the hype of a newspaper headline, the clichs of televised sports reporting) as much as with the characters themselves. Thus, a sparkly toothed broadcaster, represented by a donkey, welcomes "viewers from around the world," while bubbles depict a reindeer, giraffes, penguins, etc., tuning in from their native habitats. The digitally manipulated photographs are hilarious, especially images of the overly confident Flash Harry Hare, shown flexing his biceps in a muscle shirt and shades or striking a John Travolta pose in a white, three-piece suit. Meanwhile the earnest, aw-shucks Tom Tortoise keeps plodding along, and the rest is history. Purists may find this somewhat surreal vision unsettling, but kids will delight in the chatty, pun-filled telling and the silly scenes filled with animals dressed and behaving like their human counterparts--whether or not they've read a more traditional version of the fable.--Wendy Lukehart, Washington DC Public Library

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