Title: The Race
Author: Edouard Manceau
Publisher: Owl Kids Books
The best sports book for kids. Ever.
Or, should I say the best sports book for adults, that was written for children. Ever.
Despite the unusual choice of anthropomorphic characters (I get the hare and tortoise, but reindeer?), I must say, Edouard Manceau must have had children enrolled in organized and/or competitive sports.
While this book focuses on the cheating aspect of the athletes during competition - in this case - a running race, there are definitely innuendos to the adult encouragement of the unsportsmanlike behavior of the competitors.
After all, "it begins with a guy (a reindeer, actually), a can of paint, and a paintbrush." There is a starting pistol, assigned number badges, medical support and a well-stocked rest stop for refueling. There is no doubt this is an adult organized event.
But when the win at all costs attitude of the adults affect the outcome, like the adult reindeer (obviously, because children don't drive) driving a truck allowing competitors to hang on to the back in order to cheat their way to the front, the negligence of rules and regulations, thus allowing 'the old banana peel trick' and the digging of a concealed hole in the ground, made it obvious that the adult organizers were either running an unscrupulous event or were unaware of the importance of the assurance of fair play in competition.
At last, when one competitor finally crosses the finish line and there is a entire entourage of media and even a marching band to celebrate his perceived (if not unfair) accomplishment, the message to the adults is clear; step back, take a look at what's important - understand what, when, how and why you want your child to participate in sport and keep it all in perspective.
The Art: Bright, yet organic colors and patterns.
For the children reading the book, the message is also clear: don't cheat and do what makes you happy!
This is an excellent and rare book about good and poor sportsmanship. It's one for the home library, indeed.