The Race

Edouard Manceau, Illustrator
Édouard Manceau, trans. from the French by Sarah Quinn. Owlkids (PGW, dist.), $17.95 (64p) ISBN 978-1-77147-055-1
Reviewed on: 02/03/2014
Release date: 04/01/2014
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Manceau follows the minimalist fun of 2013’s Windblown with a philosophical story about competition and the definition of success. An endearingly goofy bunch of caribou—fashioned from identical cut-paper shapes, with big googly eyes and antlers that resemble pretzel rods—compete in a footrace. As the competition grows tougher, those googly eyes become positively vicious; the racers cheat and sabotage one another, and seem to derive little pleasure from the contest. Manceau, certainly, is unimpressed, even when a winner is declared: “They give him flowers, they clap, they put him on TV,” he shrugs. The author’s sympathies are elsewhere—with a caribou that questioned why he was running and then dropped out to build a fine little house with a lovely garden. “They say there is only one winner,” Manceau muses as the caribou lounges in a hammock. “They also say that everyone else lost... that’s just what they say.” A response to the competitiveness of youth sports? An odd message in an Olympic year? Perhaps, but it’s also an excellent opportunity for adults and children to pause and discuss the meaning of life—ideally while in a hammock. Ages 3–7. (Apr.)
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