cover image The Big Race

The Big Race

Shirley Glaser. Hyperion Books for Children, $16.99 (28pp) ISBN 978-0-7868-1821-1

The Glasers (The Alphazeds) create an extra set of pages in this ""Tortoise and the Hare"" retelling by dividing the spreads horizontally. Readers scan 12 right-side-up spreads, then flip this ""magic turnover book"" to look at its second half. The end of the sequence reveals a neverending cycle that always begins with green Tommy Tortoise and gray Harry Hare in New York (represented by a flat green ground and a far-distant Statue of Liberty). "" 'Let's have another race,' Harry said./ 'Okay, but just remember, I won the last one,' said Tommy."" Harry sets a rapid pace, zigzagging to Europe, Egypt, New Zealand, Japan, India and Russia. Milton Glaser's crayony illustrations and Shirley Glaser's text give a generic flavor for each region (Harry smells the ""aromas of garlic, olive oil, and oranges"" in Spain, sees paper kites in China and dodges baseball players in the Dominican Republic), and changing colors of sky, from gold to violet to turquoise, maintain divisions between the page hemispheres. True to form, Harry stops to nap in the Galapagos Islands, and ""while he was sleeping, something passed him by."" Readers glimpse Tommy's tail disappearing off the spread, but the Glasers say nothing about slow and steady winning the race. Instead, their focus is on the design gimmick and round-the-world itinerary, charted in the end pages' maps-including an inverted one in which Australia occupies the upper left and Alaska the lower right space. The fable's old lesson gets lost, yet the Glasers have some visual tricks up their sleeves. Ages 4-7.