The Tortoise or the Hare: Fabulous Book Published in 2010



Toni Morrison, with the help of her son, Slade Morrison, has written several children’s books in contrast to some of her more serious adult novels, such as Beloved or A Mercy. In their newest children’s book, The Tortoise or the Hare, they put a new spin on the well-known story of competition and winning.

Instead of putting heavy focus on winning and losing, Morrison uses the characters Jimi Hare and Jamey Tortoise to redefine success. Jimi Hare and Jamey Tortoise prepare for the race in two very different ways–one through athletic training and the other through clever strategizing. In a surprise twist, Jimi Hare crosses the finish line first; however, both feel as through they have won in their own way. By providing two different views of success, Morrison communicates a new attitude about competition and friendship. The Tortoise or the Hare provides an intriguing story recommended for children ages 4 through 8; however, complete understanding of the message require familiarity with the classic tale from Aesop’s fables.

Beautiful oil-paint illustrations by Joe Cepeda bring the story alive with bright colors and bold lines. The usage of paint provides a textural element that covers each page with richness and depth. Even on pages that are primarily white, the visible brush strokes that cover the page will engage children in both the artwork and the story. Many different types of animals are portrayed alongside Jimi Hare and Jamey Tortoise, allowing for plenty of opportunity for rich discussion and interaction between reader and child. The detailed illustrations in combination with the unique and fresh storyline make The Tortoise or the Hare an exciting and new addition to the world of children’s literature.

Happy Reading!

Grace and Abby

6 responses »

  1. Thanks for sharing this book! I've loved Toni Morrison's adult novels, and I admire her use of rich story lines and expressive dialogues. You have sparked my interest to read The Tortoise or the Hare and to investigate how Morrison adapts her style for the young reader. I also appreciate your mention of the illustrations, as they will certainly help to shape the story. As I hope to teach the lower elementary grades, this book could likely be one that I will incorporate into a unit on friendship during the first month of school. Thanks!

  2. Great summary of a book that seems both fun and enlightening for children! I've also loved Toni Morrison's adult novels, so I am certain her children's novels are equally as good. I'm anxious to see these illustrations after hearing your commentary; The cover alone definitely grabs my attention. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Thanks for the great description of this book! Based on your post, I want to add it to my collection now! I can't wait to check it out, especially since it sounds like a creative new spin on an old tale.

  4. Interesting that Toni Morrison is writing children's books. I read one of her adult books, Song of Solomon, in high school, and I remember it being pretty deep and even frightening at some points. To be perfectly honest, I can't say that I liked it that much. However, I am curious about how her writing style would translate to children's book. Thanks for letting me know about this book!

  5. This looks like a great way to use a familiar story in a new way! I am excited to use this book in my class to teach text-to-text connections and as a way to talk about success! Thanks!

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