#578 – The Race by Édouard Manceau

coverThe Race

by Édouard Manceau

translated by Sarah Quinn

Owlkids Books, Inc.     4/15/2014

978-1-77147-055-1

Age 3 to 7     64 pages

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“A group of caribou gather to run a race that begins at one line and ends at another. But what happens in between? The caribou engage in some rather outlandish tricks in order to be the first to cross the finish line. But in the midst of this titanic struggle for victory, some of the caribou stop to question the merits of their single-minded pursuit of winning at all costs. Follow this hapless herd of caribou in a race to the finish. Who wins? You decide.”

Opening

“It begins with a guy, a can of paint, and a paintbrush.”

Review/The Race

One inventive caribou lays down two lines:  one at the beginning and one at the end. He picks up a megaphone and shouts to the racers, who are limbering behind the start line. Six caribou—male, in case you were wondering—warm-up for the race. The starter’s gun gets the racers ready, and set, and number 4 takes off! Unbelievable. Unheard of. Under the starter’s gun, number 4 is marched back, front legs in the air.

The idea of six caribou racing from one line to another line is silly. They have a number stuck to their belly and wear running shoes of assorted colors. The hard-working caribou that painted the lines, and holds the starter’s gun, looks angry. Maybe because he’d rather race than officiate, but he cannot. It would be improper. A conflict of interest. A sure —“BANG!”

Number 5 jumps into the lead, the others not far behind. Wait, what is that in number 5’s hand? Why it’s a . . . Oh, no! The back five tumble into each other. A caribou-clog stops all traffic on the track; they are the traffic on the track. Now number 5 has an insurmountable lead. Even quick caribou couldn’t overtake him now. Wait, what is that? It’s a motto.

“Quitting is not an option!”

I love the scene where the five clumsy caribou sit on the sideline, tended to by caribou doctors. I mean, doctors who are caribou. One listens to a heart, another glues—gorilla glues—an antler that snapped in two, while the third sports scissors and orange gauze, wrapping up bruises, and gashes, and sprains, and anything else you can imagine are under those bandages.  Amid all the broken caribou and the medical supplies is the cause of the caribou clog-up; the thing number 5—and they are off!

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Number 6 takes a fast second place. Wait, now what is on the course? A green truck!? Great, the caribou will be hit, clog up the racecourse, and need more medical attention. Where is the lead caribou? Oh my, the injured racers are all kiting toward him. Flying closer and closer, the five straggling racers have surpassed number 5! WAIT! Why are they stopping for water . . . fish . . . electrolytes? Number 5 is sure to retake the lead. Where is number 5? He’s where . . . up there!? Looks like number 5 is out of the race, folks.

One of the funniest things about The Race is the twists and turns that pop out of nowhere. The caribou all want to win, no matter the cost. They are making bold moves, possibly illegal-to-caribou-racing moves. Young children will love The Race. Zany and fast paced, the illustrations tell the majority of the story. Each spread has only one or two sentences. For example, here is the start of the race:

“That brings a bunch of other guys who start bending and twisting.” [spread 3]

“Then the first guy comes back with a pistol, and everyone freezes.” [spread 4]

“Sometimes, one of them tries to get away.” [spread 5]

“It doesn’t usually take long to catch him. That’s called a false start.” [spread 6]

The words don’t always seem related to the action. The above example could have been a criminal line-up as easily as the start of a race. I like how that possible confusion emphasizes the role and importance of illustrations in picture books. The two parts — Look, someone took off, leaving the refueling station and the rest of the racers behind! He is quickly moving away. Look at that lead! Wait, here come the rest, led by number 3 holding an empty bottle in his hoof. With one eye patched—after the caribou clog up—it is quite possible he will miss number 4. Oh, but look! Right behind 3 is number 1 carrying a fish, and he is not eating it.

Number 6 finishes his drink on the run, then he and number 3 shove those bottles onto number 4’s antlers. Number 3 takes the lead with 6 on his hoof “heels.” What a caribou. Numbers 1 and 2 pull up the rear. Number 2 has avoided last place all race. Wait! Number 1 surpassed number 2! Poor number 2, he looks so pooped. Look! He tore off his number. The caribou is hoofing it home. He quit.

If they are extremely competitive, from sports or video games, kids might call that caribou a quitter. I don’t think he is a quitter. Did he really quit or decide racing is not for him? He went home, spruced the place up, and now enjoys himself and his home. He did take number 2 home for a souvenir. It lays on his —Number 4 is in a hole! Number 6 looks on viciously at the top-heavy caribou. That caribou is as mean as he looks. What is he doing to . . .

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Phew! A review amidst a race makes for a long post. I think I will stop now. You’re welcome.

Messages. The Race’s messages include whether winning at all costs is worth the win. Is hampering the other players with tricks so you can win fair play? Who really won this race? The first banged up racer to cross the finish line or the racer who realized it was not worth the cost and quit? I coached kids for seven years and know the players’—and parents’—win-at-all-cost attitudes often harms the child. Kids are better off learning to enjoying the journey—while playing hard, trying to win—win or lose. Not everyone can win all the time and not everyone deserves a trophy. That’s life. Games are a way to prepare kids for adult life. Many of those caribou will end up in caribou jail if they live as they played.

When The Race arrived, I quickly read it, as I do all picture books. Then I read it again. Then I shared it. I think The Race is a hoot. Messages aside, The Race has multi-level humor that “cracked me up.” Kids and parents will adore this book. Not only will parents not mind repeat readings, kids will read it on their own, using their imagination to “write” the text as they read. Those stories might be the best as the child makes The Race their own.

THE RACE. Text and illustration copyright © 2012 by Édouard Manceau. Translation copyright © 2014 by Sarah Quinn. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Owlkids Books, Inc., Berkeley, CA.                               **Originally published in France under the title La course in 2012 by Éditions Milan.

original cover

original cover

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Buy your copy of The Race at AmazonB&NOwlkids Booksyour local bookstore.

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Learn more about The Race HERE.

Meet the author/illustrator, Édouard Manceau, at his website:   http://edouardmanceau.blogspot.com/

Meet the translator, Sarah Quinn, at her website:

Find top-notch books at Owlkids Books, Inc. website:   http://www.owlkidsbooks.com/

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Also by Édouard Manceau

Presto Change-O: A Book of Animal Magic

Presto Change-O: A Book of Animal Magic

Hatch, Little Egg

Hatch, Little Egg

Windblown

Windblown

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Édouard Manceau, author/illustrator

Édouard Manceau, author/illustrator

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Since 1999, Édouard Manceau has been an author and illustrator.
He draws for the press, publishes games, and books for children from two years.
Édouard has published over a hundred children’s books so far, translated into many countries.

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.the race

*The jump in review number is due to reviews never numbered from last year. Everything is correct.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you noticed that the review number jumped up a few, you are very astute. I am not. I missed several reviews that had a title other than a book title. Noticed one, so I checked them all. Now I am on review 581. Not fudging the numbers, but rather fudging up in my counting. So sorry if this caused you any mathematical harm, as none is intended.

12 thoughts on “#578 – The Race by Édouard Manceau

  1. Pingback: #662 – Hatch, Little Egg by Édouard Manceau | Kid Lit Reviews

  2. This sounds like a hoot. I love your picture book reviews. If you say it’s funny, then I take your word for it. Lol I recently finally got my hands on Lion vs rabbit. I think that’s what it was called. Another funny book you recommended and again you were right. It was also a hoot.

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    • I am addicted to picture books and learning a lot about them as time moves ever so faster. I love funny. I am lucky in that the publishers are terrific. I am hoping to get at least one more by this author and he actually uses these same characters! 😆 I can’t wait to read it. I know you will enjoy The Race and I think your child will too. Enjoy!! 🙂

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  3. Pingback: Free Book: Ace London | Kid Lit Reviews

    • This is a cool book. I have two more from this publisher that are just as wild. Okay, The Race is the better of the three, still, the other two are hilarious. All with one word titles: Splat! is one I can recall.

      AAAAA! I forgot the illustrations. COME BACK!!

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  4. Whoa!!!!! Those are the funniest caribou I’ve ever seen!!! I must admit I haven’t seen many. But those are hilarious! The whole book sounds hilarious. I need to check this one out for sure! Thanks!

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    • I agree. The caribou are funny. I like it when they go after each other, trying to trip each other up and win the race. Dogs would not do that to each other just to win some dumb race, would they? ❓

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  5. Those are very cute for caribous 🙂 And any book that can teach how to play fair and not make winning the most important thing in the world is a worthy book to me. The fact that you loved it AND it’s funny—all the more so 🙂

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    • Huh? Do I usually love it but it is not funny, or it is funny and I don’t love it? I usually like every book I put up. In many instances I have picked out the books. Even from the new season – most publishers send a list and ask what I want. So I CAN like it and it CAN be funny. Sometimes I even read while standing on my head so the words jumbled and become funny just to up the funny-factor, I like funny so much it is funny! Nothing could be funnier than a funny book. 😆

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      • No, no, no, no, no lol Sue! Perhaps I should’ve said because you loved it AND because the book is funny, the book is a worthy one, in my opinion. You loving it and the book being funny are two separate entities. Of course I know you like many funny books, silly woman! 😉

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        • Well, why didn’t you say so? Maybe next time you want to make a double-point you should make 2 comments. Like one telling me I loved it and the other about it being funny. Gee, it would be okay. But then, a double-comment might confuse me and I can get confused very easily especially if it is after midnight and , oh no, the Twilight Zone. duh-duh-duh-duh duh-duh-duh-duh “The year – 1950. The Internet – not invented. People must send letters. Panic sets in . . . “

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