The Great Race
Jagdish Chitara
age group: 
5+ yrs
Number of pages: 
Tara Books
value education tricksters snails race folktales deer animals
picture book, fiction


Trickster stories have a special place in the heart of children and are popular around the globe, for not only are they entertaining, but they also convey a reassuring message that brain is better than brawn.

In this folk tale from Indonesia, Kanchil, the little mouse deer, claims that he is the fastest runner in the forest, and to prove it arrogantly challenges all the animals to a race. However, none of the animals rise to the occasion, not the tiger, not the boar not even the elephant. Suddenly, a tiny voice speaks up. It was Pelan, the snail! The tale goes on to explain how the lowly snail outwits Kancil and makes him eat humble-pie.

The story is illustrated, by folk artist, Jagdish Chitara, in Mata ki Pachedi style; an art form of Gujarat, that traditionally uses only three colours, red, black and white. Each page of the book is an exquisite piece of art with a lot of visually appealing illustrations of trees, animals and birds.

A lovely way to enhance children’s sensibilities to the rich and diverse folk arts of India.

Reviewed by Shamim Padamsee