Book Review – The Great Race

The Great Race - Tara Books - A Book Review

Publisher: Tara Books

Author: Nathan Kumar Scott

Illustrator: Jagdish Chitara

The Great Race is a witty story based on an Indonesian trickster tale. It is an extremely satisfying read and its earthy folk art illustrations stand out.

At first, you think that this is similar to the story of Aesop’s The Hare and the Tortoise. The race in this book, however, is between Kanchil, a mouse deer who is very proud that he is the fastest animal in the forest, and Pelan, a snail. While it is easy to guess who is not going to win the race, finding out how the snail wins the race comes as a surprise to everyone. The ending makes the book delightful with it’s clever twist.

The Great Race - Book REview

As delectable as the story, are its illustrations. They are done in Mata ni Pachedi style of folk art that originates in Gujarat. In fact, the illustrator is a member of the Waghari community in Gujarat, who paint this traditional art on fabric, to create ritual cloths.

This book whisks tradition (folk art and colours) with modernity (book design) and creates a distinctive, fresh and exhilarating story. A beautifully made book, is a must-have at home and is definitely a keep sake.


The Great Race - Tara Books

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Here are some activities you can try after reading this book:


  1. Ask children if they know any more trickster tales. Get them to narrate those stories.
  2. Encourage children to write their own trickster tale. Here are some pointers:

The story must have:

  • A clever animal or person who plays the tricks
  • The character should have one or two main qualities like greed or boastfulness.
  • The story should be written as if someone is narrating the tale.
  • Ensure the plot is fast and ends quickly.
  • The story must have a moral or a lesson to be learnt.


  1. Listen to Speedy the snail by Shel Silverstein


  1. Watch the movie – Turbo


  1. Learn the art – Mata ni Pachedi

Replicate an illustration from the book on fabric. All you need are fabric paints or pens and a handkerchief or a piece of cloth. Children can copy out the illustration – there are loads to choose – from simple suns to complicated crocodiles!

  1. Snail art
    1. Onion printed snails
      • Cut an onion in half laterally. Draw a snail’s body. Dip the cut onion in paint and press above the body. Voila, you have a snail!
    2. Make a Snail with an empty snail shell and beeswax – Source: Frontier Dreams
    3. Doodle and paint snail – Source: Make and Takes
    4. More snail crafts – Source: I Heart Crafty Things

Also Read: Lessons from trickster tales.

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