"Surely I am not becoming more like my brother."

This story appeals to the competitive nature of every single child. Even though the race isn't the story's main point, every young reader will be at the edge of their seat, wondering who wins the race between the hunting dog and the racehorse. Without giving any spoilers, this is not your classic "Tortoise and the Hare" type of tale.

There is so much to talk about with young students or one's children. For example, do horses and dogs know that they are different, and how are they different or the same? This book is also fraught with lessons of tolerance and acceptance, sneaking in the back door via the reading journey. It is obvious that the author is a professional teacher. Likewise, the illustrations by Mike Minick are lifelike, bright, and well done. The lesson of how people see and treat the disabled is staged here, too. For instance, the fastest bird dog just so happens to have only three legs. The point isn't belabored, but it is there for all to absorb.

Writing humor is hard, but Harkey nails the child humor along with the more serious lessons. For example, Deacon, the dog, learns by eating books. Deacon barks, "It is a good thing I just finished eating those binders on the horse books. I read all about racehorses and racing." From cowbird natural laziness (hijacking nests for their own young) to a lazy bird dog that tries to be human's best friend by taking all the credit, the theme of accepting the nature of others is a phenomenal lesson to discuss with kids. Simply put, this amazing, amusing, original story plants seeds of peaceful thinking.

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