Mama Lion Wins the Race

illus. by Jon J Muth. 56p. Scholastic. Aug. 2017. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780545852821.
RedReviewStarPreS-Gr 2—Mama Lion and Tigey are excited: it is race day! They examine their route, take a gander at the prizes, greet the competition in the town square, and drive off with Tigey behind the wheel. The Knitted Monkeys are up to mischief and try to get ahead in the race, but others soon take the lead. When Tigey swerves to avoid hitting a butterfly, the pair must stop to repair a wheel. Unexpectedly, the Flying Pandinis, two oval-shaped pandas and a turtle who are ace mechanics, stop to help get them back on the road. The Pandinis and Mama Lion and Tigey take first and second place—in spite of the Monkeys' shenanigans. Deftly executed watercolors present the action inspired by road races in a lush Italian countryside. Fascinating details are included on each spread. (Children will likely spot a cameo appearance by Clifford the Big Red Dog and Mo Willems's Pigeon before adults notice.) By the race's end, Tigey comes to appreciate Mama Lion's initial, measured response to his enthusiasm: "Winning is fun, but it isn't everything."
VERDICT Gorgeous illustrations and a sweet story make this a pleasing and palatable read-aloud and a subtle lesson for younger children.

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