cover image The Tortoise and the Jackrabbit

The Tortoise and the Jackrabbit

Susan Lowell. Rising Moon Books, $15.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-87358-586-6

As in their The Three Little Javelinas, Lowell and Harris revivify a timeworn tale with a Southwestern setting and a dash of wit. The tortoise here is a bespectacled, parasol-toting marm. Her cocky rival-a singing (``Long, low, LEAP, ho!'') jackrabbit-springs into the air to flaunt his speed. ``Tortoise looked patiently up at him with her old, old eyes. `Let's race,' she said.'' A jumble of directional signs tucked under his wing, Roadrunner marks the course through a desert filled with the appropriate flora and fauna. Indeed, with repeated readings, the safari-style ecological subtext may overtake the amusement of the race itself. Precise and punchy, Lowell's undated prose turns hip alongside Harris's comical characterizations. The race ends with an endearing laugh at Tortoise eating her victory bouquet; the book ends with an author's note concerning the current threats to desert creatures. A merry blend of play, allegory and environmentalism. Ages 3-up. (Oct.)