The Great Race
Written and illustrated by Kevin O’Malley
Tired of listening to Lever Lapin boast about being the fastest runner in the world, Nate Tortoise mumbles that he “could probably beat” the conceited hare in a race. No sooner are the words out of Nate’s mouth, than the great hare himself accepts the challenge. On the day of the race the over-confident Lever stops to give autographs, kiss the ladies and generally show off while Nate plugs away toward the finish line. This comic tongue-in-cheek retelling of “The Tortoise and the Hare” finishes with an amusing twist on the time-honored moral: Better Nate Than Lever!”
Includes A Conversation With the Author-Illustrator.
A hare and tortoise square off in this entertaining iconographic adaptation of Kevin O’Malley’s picture book interpretation of the “The Tortoise and the Hare” story. In this version, Lever Lapin ( a speedy rabbit ) sports an ascot and speaks in an arrogant French accent. When Nate Tortoise challenges Lapin, to a race, the rabbit accepts with pleasure. Because of his speed, Lapin has plenty of time to sign autographs, kiss female admirers, and stop for a lunch break while Tortoise plods along. Through a restaurant window, Lapin sees the turtle cross the finish line, prompting headlines the next day to read, “Better Nate than Lever”. Narrator Michael Pongracz has fun with Lapin’s cheesy French accent, female fans’ titters, and an observant snail’s squeaks as cameras pan O’Malley’s watercolor and ink illustrations. In an accompanying segment, O’Malley talks about his development as an artist and writer. Kids will enjoy this fresh take on the popular fable.
Booklist Online Reviews, January 2012.
The traditional fable about the race between the sluggish but determined tortoise and a speedy though arrogant, hare has been recast with fresh watercolor-and-ink illustrations and a lively, pun-filled text by Kevin O’Malley. Nate Tortoise and Lever Lapin take the race – and its moral – to humorous heights. Slow but steady Nate wins over his conceited competitor, leading to a take-off on the more traditional moral: “better late than never” becomes “better Nate than Lever.” The iconographic filming technique focuses on the illustrations while creating a sense of movement. The energetic narration is clear and varied. A conversation with the author/illustrator is also included. After an introductory photograph of O’Malley, scenes from The Great Race are overlaid during an insightful look at some of his inspirations for writing and illustrating books for young readers, the books he read as a child, and his sometimes offbeat sense of humor.
School Library Journal, February 2012.
This iconographic-animated adaptation of writer-illustrator Kevin O’Malley’s 2011 picture book The Great Race – an updated version of The Tortoise and the Hare – is narrated by Michael Pongracz, who relates the story of Nate Tortoise, an out-of-shape turtle, and Lever Lapin, an athletic rabbit. The former is a sarcastic slowpoke, while the latter is a conceited champion. Nonetheless, Nate believes that he could beat Lever in a race, and while dining in his favorite restaurant, La Gaganspew, he voices that thought aloud, just as Lever arrives with his entourage. The fleet-footed sprinter accepts the challenge, and a week later, the competition commences, beginning with Lever in front and Nate behind (a snail cracks, “He’s so slow, he’s gonna get a parking ticket”). After a while, Lever starts to goof off for the crowd, before stopping for lunch and signing autographs. Meanwhile, Nate catches up – to the point that even if Lever cuts through all the fans clamoring for his signature – he still might not make it. DVD extras include an audio interview with O’Malley. Combining a droll narrative with appealing watercolor imagery, this is recommended.
Video Librarian, March/April 2012.