A Picture Book of the Week (PBOW) Feature

The Tortoise and the Hare
Jerry Pinkney
Little, Brown, and Co., 2013

I adored Pinkney’s 2010 Caldecott winning The Lion and the Mouse. I’m also a big fan of his Noah’s Ark, The Ugly Duckling, and others. So I could hardly wait to get my hands on this latest Pinkney treasure. And I wasn’t disappointed!

Cover: WOW. Pinkney fills his covers and spreads with images–we are there with the characters, in this case, the tortoise and the hare (fitting!). To get the full effect, though, you should open the book and look at the cover along with the back of the book all at the same time. It’s one big double spread.

Endpapers: Pinkney wastes no space, and his endpapers are some of the best there are. One of the reasons I was hooked on his Noah’s Ark were the gorgeous endpapers; the back set show rainbows all around the globe. So. cool. In similar fashion here, we have two totally different scenes. The first is a pre-story image; the back is a post-story image. The bookends, if you will.

Palette: I love noticing what colors an illustrator uses and trying to ascertain why, or what their signature style is, or what their favorite color combinations might be. In Pinkney’s books, (The Lion and the Mouse being a possible exception), there are little bursts of red and blue against a predominantly earth-toned palette. But his earth tones still manage to be bright and colorful even as they blend together. Our hero–the tortoise–carries the spots of red and blue in this story.

Text: There is very little text in this story; I think of it as a wordless book. However, notice the letters themselves: on the title page, in particular, the words “The Tortoise” and “The Hare” are colored like the animals they mention. Throughout the book, the words “Slow and steady” that appear over time are colored with the same blues and reds that the Tortoise is wearing. Coincidence? I think not!

Movement: Pinkney is one of those artists who captures such movement in his watercolors. These animals are frozen in time, but we get the sense that it’s merely a snapshot–they’ve long since hopped or crawled out of the frame. Somehow, he manages to capture the Tortoise’s laborious climb in and out of the water while simultaneously showing the Hare frolicking onward.

All in all, this is one of my favorite picture books of the year–lots of details to look at in these pages!

If you’ve read this book, what did you think? 
What have I missed? 

Next Picture Book of the Week is:

Cover image from publisher’s website; book from local library

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