cover image Mama Lion Wins the Race

Mama Lion Wins the Race

Jon J Muth. Scholastic Press, $17.99 (56p) ISBN 978-0-545-85282-1

Mama Lion and Tigey—two gawky stuffed animals—are preparing for a car race along with the other toys in their town. The race begins (some famous picture book friends can be spotted in the starting- line crowd), and the vintage automobiles hurtle through the countryside. When Mama Lion and Tigey’s car breaks down, the Flying Pandinis, a rival team, stop to lend a hand without regard to lost time. Despite the best efforts of an ambitious team of monkeys, the Flying Pandinis, and Mama Lion and Tigey take the lead. The loving portraits of vintage cars are a pleasure in themselves, and the race is simultaneously tense and surprisingly leisurely. But it’s not about winning—as with previous books, Muth uses the competitive setting for some Zen-style teaching. Mama Lion isn’t focused on domination: “We could not win!” she suggests to Tigey at the race’s climax, reciprocating kindness with kindness. For her, the important thing is not the goal but the journey, and gratitude for all living things. “The world is beautiful,” she murmurs to herself, midrace. Ages 3–5. Agent: Allen Spiegel, Allen Spiegel Fine Arts. (July)