Reviews for Tortoise or the Hare

Booklist Reviews 2010 November #1
The mother-son team here delivers another Aesop update, grappling with the loaded subjects of winning, losing, and getting good press coverage. Jimi the Hare is introduced as the fastest creature around and Jamey the Tortoise as the smartest. Everyone avoids them, calling them "show-off," "stuck-up," and "stupid know-it-all," but Cepeda's exuberant, unfussy paintings feature the two animals as content loners. When a race is announced in the newspaper, though, they both sign up, get ready, and contact the paper, offering to give interviews. On race day, Jimi entertains the crowd with acrobatic stunts, while Jamey gets on a bus, a train, a boat, and a plane. Even with that help, Jimi Hare still wins. The paper's next-day headline reads "Winner Loses! Loser Wins!" because the reporter was expecting the outcome of the original Aesop fable. Fun stuff, though the feel-good ending--Jimi and Jamey hold hands above text that reads, "It's not who wins. It's when the runners become good friends"--seems a bit tacked on. When did they have a chance to bond? Copyright 2010 Booklist Reviews.

Horn Book Guide Reviews 2011 Spring
This mother-son writing team tackles the classic fable. Forget "slow and steady wins the race": Jimi Hare actually beats Jamey Tortoise. That this peculiar story is, per its last page, about friendship ("It's not the race. / It's not who wins. / It's when the runners become good friends") isn't prefigured. The disharmonious palette of Cepeda's textured oil paintings echoes the story line. Copyright 2011 Horn Book Guide Reviews.

Kirkus Reviews 2010 August #2
Authors and illustrator combine forces again in this umpteenth version of the classic tale (Peeny Butter Fudge, 2009). Neither Jimi Hare nor Jamey Tortoise is popular. J. Hare is too fast for anyone to keep up: His running is "too quick, / a trick!" J. Tortoise, on the other hand, is too smart: He's "too quick, / a trick!" In preparation for the coming race, Hare exercises and Tortoise strategizes. Both hold phone interviews with a foxy reporter, and then it's off to the starting line. J. Tortoise avails himself of trains and boats and planes while J. Hare performs stunts. There's no surprise at the finish line, only in the newspaper headline, which proclaims "Winner loses! Loser wins!" Both contestants are happy and go off hand in hand, because what matters is friendship—which, bafflingly, appears to erupt spontaneously at the end. The Morrisons seem to be sending messages about crafty news manipulation and the absurdity of athletic competition. But is this the appropriate audience? Cepeda's oil paintings are colorful and appropriately frenetic, but the story is just too diffuse and confusing. (Picture book. 4-7) Copyright Kirkus 2010 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

Publishers Weekly Reviews 2010 August #4

In the Morrisons' updated version of this Aesop's fable, Jimi Hare and Jamey Tortoise try to spin their story with the media before the race. "But what story pleases your readers the most," Jamey asks a reporter, "the winner who loses or the loser who wins?" The reporter, an exuberant fox in a party dress, responds, "Oh, they're both important.... But for overall satisfaction, it's when the winner loses." After all the hype, the ending is remarkably anticlimactic--unlike in the original, Jimi comes in first, while Jamey plods in second. The traditional message about perseverance is lost to a murky idea about gaming the system to get what you want: the crown for Jimi, the headline for Jamey. Although the animals are portrayed as parallel misfits--outcast for their quick moves and quick mind--and would seem ideal companions, that development is left to a throwaway final scene. "It's not who wins," the authors conclude. "It's when the runners become good friends." The oil paintings by Cepeda (who illustrated the Morrisons' Peeny Butter Fudge) vibrate with life and color, providing much of the story's energy. Ages 4-8. (Sept.)

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School Library Journal Reviews 2010 October

Gr 1-3--Jimi Hare is fast and Jamey Tortoise is smart. Everyone avoids them, calls them names, and demeans their talents as tricks. When Jimi and Jamey sign up for a race, one practices while the other plans. The tortoise is told that reversals, such as the winner who loses, make the most satisfying newspaper story. The hare hears that the largest crowd gets more attention than the loudest cheers. On the day of the race, the tortoise travels on bus, train, and plane, while the hare dances, runs, and invents new stunts to draw the crowd. Though Jimi Hare crosses the finish line first, all who know Aesop's fable understand the headline--"WINNER LOSES! LOSER WINS!" Giving a new twist to an old tale, these two lonely and talented characters eventually become friends. Any reading of this tale will depend on knowledge of Aesop's fable. Illustrations are rendered in oil paints showing bright animated characters against textured backgrounds. Occasional rhymes ("Because he always won, they said he was no fun") enliven the text. This contemporary retelling should spark interesting discussions.--Mary Jean Smith, Southside Elementary School, Lebanon, TN

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