The Hare and the Tortoise
The moral of the story: modesty and perseverance will always be rewarded. Keep reading…
Author and illustrator Brian Wildsmith gives us his personal take on an old classic, The Hare and the Tortoise. Inspired by the La Fontaine version, Wildsmith simply retells the fable about a race between a boastful hare who thinks he is faster and clever than his opponent, a slow moving tortoise. Off in a flash at the starting line, the hare flies over the hills, while the tortoise barely moves forward. Confident of the distance between him and the tortoise, the hare stops several times to eat. With his belly full of tasty carrots and leaves, he then falls asleep. When finally he wakes up, the hare is astonished to find that the tortoise, with his slow and steady pace, has won the race.
Get ready for a rainbow explosion if you decide to read this book. Wildsmith is flamboyant with his colours, creating dazzling combinations that dance before your eyes. Though the illustrations are dotted and layered with colours, the pages don’t feel overcrowed; Wildsmith has a clever way of using white space to create breathing room and the white backgrounds make his colours pop. For some reason, I have an urge to finger paint every time I look at Wildsmith’s pieces – they just scream fun. The art is full of lively and electrifying brush strokes, with splatters of paint that create abstract patterns and textures. It’s been a while since I felt inspired and envious of another artist’s freedom to just create. This may sound sappy, but you can almost get the impression of spontaneous joy from looking at his illustrations.
The Hare and the Tortoise, a children’s book review by Thao Lam
Author and Illustrator Brian Wildsmith
Brian Wildsmith was born in Yorkshire in 1930, the son of a miner. Wildsmith was raised in a small mining village where, he says, “Everything was grey. There wasn’t any colour. It was all up to my imagination. I had to draw in my head….” He never intended to be an artist but an inner voice promoted him to change his career path (he had talents in music and science). After two years at Barnsley Art School, he won a scholarship to the Slade School of Fine Art in London.
His big break came when Mabel George, an editor at Oxford University Press, discovered his work. George stuck by him and even encouraged him to keep writing when critics were harsh. He began illustrating in the 1960s, during an age of freedom and self-expression. Wildsmith knew nothing about illustrating; he was trained as a fine painter and so he was unaware of any constraints, which allowed him the imaginative freedom to just create. Now, Wildsmith has 82 books to his credit and has said of his creations, “Art is food for the soul and a picture book represents a child’s very first encounter with art, so I felt this was a way I could make a contribution to the world. A drop in the ocean maybe, but this work offered a chance to communicate to children the importance of such things as kindness, compassion, friendship, beauty.”
To find out more about Brian Wildsmith, please visit his website: www.brianwildsmith.com
Publisher Oxford University Press (June 7, 2007)