School Library Journal
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PreS-Gr 3-Cheetah always has to win. On the title page, readers see him looking in the mirror flexing his muscles. Meanwhile his two kitten friends have something up their furry sleeves as their kyuuto shushing faces reveal. In color-coded dialogue, they announce (their colors intertwined) that it is the day of the big race. The retro artwork is kid-friendly, flat with textures as if done in crayon, with lots of little motion lines, and a palette of mostly orange and blue, all creating a flow of action. The two kittens know Cheetah oh so well, and entertain themselves (at his expense) before the big race by sponsoring various other competitions, all contrived to slow him down. They use a mixture of cunning and flattery, awarding Cheetah with such prizes as wooden platforms they call winner shoes. The pacing is energetic and lively-untethered by any setting and formulated for those young listeners who would rather be tearing across the yard than sitting and reading. Written for those who must endure the antics of younger ones who pout and cry if they lose, this title is an apt choice to open a discussion about dealing compassionately with someone who always has a competitive edge.-Sara Lissa Paulson, The American Sign Language and English Lower School, New York City (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
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Cheetah is insufferably competitive. When he hears that his two little cat friends are excited about the "big race day, " he interjects, "The one I always win because I am big and fast and you always lose because you are little and cats?" To teach Cheetah a lesson, the cats devise a series of increasingly humiliating tricks, masked as competitions, that capitalize on Cheetah's clueless arrogance, weighing him down with heavy "winner shoes," a vision-obscuring crown, several pies, and an ice cream sundae. Suddenly mortified to see Cheetah robbed of his self-image (an epiphany that gives the title a deeper meaning), the cats name him the winner of the day. Shea, returning to the more textured and stylized characterizations of Race You to Bed (2010), has the cats' scheme unfold against a crisp white backdrop; propping is minimal, and subtle drop shadows provide the only clues of a stable sense of gravity. The story's thought-provoking conclusion is equally striking, albeit subtly argued: even a richly deserved comeuppance can go too far, and real friends overlook one another's foibles. Ages 4-8. Agent: Steven Malk, Writers House. (Mar.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.
Wringing the same clever humor out of absurd competitions that works so well in his Dinosaur vs. series, Shea offers up a new take on the tortoise versus the hare. Pitting two crafty and adorable cats against a swell-headed cheetah (fastest runner on earth), Shea delivers on the always-welcome message that, while it's great to be physically adept, you simply can't top intelligence. The cats set up the victory-obsessed cheetah with preliminary races and load him with awards that slow him down and make him clumsy, so by the time the final race is on, Cheetah can barely see let a alone run straight. In warm shades of orange and blue, the art's lively energy keep's the book buzzing, and the cartoonish facial expressions exemplify familiar character traits. Kids will enjoy having one over on Cheetah as they see what's coming, and they'll appreciate an ending twist in which the loudmouthed braggart does not learn a lesson and the smaller felines suggest that winning isn't actually everything.--Karp, Jesse Copyright 2010 Booklist