The Great Race is a children’s ‘trickster tale’ from Indonesia with beautiful hand painted illustrations by a traditional artist from India.
The story is very similar to the tale of the hare and the tortoise from British folklore, but with a special twist.
In the Indonesian trickster version, Pelan the snail uses his wits to beat Kanchil the arrogant mouse deer through trickery.
Teaming up with his twin brother, Pelan the snail gives the impression that he’s made it to the finish line first by having his twin brother ‘win’. Kanchil – big on brawn but light on brains – never figures out the trickery and has to concede that he’s not as fast as a snail.
My two boys very much enjoyed this story – anything that involves a competition will get their attention!
Nathan Kumar Scott’s retelling of this traditional tale is entertaining and engaging. I had a lot of fun reading it, especially doing the ‘tiny voice’ of the snail, and the self-important voice of Kanchil, the arrogant mouse deer.
Recommended age range
Due to the length of the book and the number of words, The Great Race is recommended for ages 6+. However, there’s plenty to look at in the detailed illustrations so I found this one a great book to read to kids of different ages (my 3-year-old niece enjoyed alongside my 5-year-old son!).
About the creators
Tara Books – publisher
Tara Books is an independent publishing house based in India. Famous for their handmade screenprinted books, the company commissions local artisans to help create modern picture books for children using traditional folk stories and art forms.
Jagdish Chitara – illustrator
Painters of the Cloth of the Mother Goddess always use the same colours – blood red, black and white. Jagdish Chitara is an artist belonging to the Waghari people, traditional creators of the Cloth of the Mother Goddess.
Chitara worked closely with Tara Books to adapt his artistic style to create the detailed illustrations in The Great Race and fold them around the narrative.
Disclosure: I received a copy from the publisher for the purpose of review. This post contains affiliate links.