________________ CM . . . . Volume XXII Number 14. . . .December 4, 2015


March Grand Prix.

Kean Soo.
North Mankato, MN: Capstone, 2015.
137 pp., trade pbk. & eBook, $16.50 (pbk.).
ISBN 978-1-62370-171-0 (pbk.), ISBN 978-1-62370-532-9 (eBook).

Grades 2-5 / Ages 7-10.

Review by Todd Kyle.

* /4


March Hare wants to become the “fastest and furriest” race car driver and strives to prove himself in three connected stories. In “The Race at Harewood”, March enters a race in his hometown of Harewood with his friend Hammond as mechanic, coming in first place over his arch rival Lyca Fox in a close and dangerous finale. In “The Baker’s Run”, March helps his sister April open a bakery by offering to drive her delivery van for a large order for the mayor’s party. Driving as though he were in a race, March causes enormous damage around town, and he decides to donate the gold Harewood prize to pay for the damage. In “The Grand Desert Rally”, March faces Lyca again in a perilous desert race, this time with his sister May as part of Lyca’s crew. March loses time helping out stranded drivers, who later return the favour, while Lyca ignores their plight and wins the race. March comes in second, thanking his new-found friends and causing May to abandon Lyca’s team.

     A fast-paced, brightly coloured, and charming comic book, this story is populated by expressive, stylized, unsubtly-drawn characters whose innate charm is outweighed by the guileless and simplistic stories that propel them. Of the characters, only Hammond shows any humour or irony (a pig, March calls him names like “Bacon Bits”). The first and third stories have at least a turning point, but they are clumsily executed: before the Harewood race, March’s father advises him that the fastest doesn’t always win; March follows the advice by braking suddenly so as to force Lyca to hit a barrier. The second story is particularly bizarre: March rampages through a street market, almost runs over an old man with a walker, destroys the mayor’s garden, and the best he can say is that his gold prize will pay for it!

     Of course, a comic like this isn’t read for moral insight, and comic book characters are often more caricatures than anything else. The theme of this book is the excitement of racing, and of winning, and nothing deeper than that. And younger reluctant readers need books like this, books that don’t turn them off with dense text and long description. The diagrams of each race car are fascinating and even funny on occasion, and there is an appealing nice-guy-underdog bent to March. Yet the highly childlike and cutesy animals that populate this book seem more in tune with a pre-schooler’s sensibility, and Hare and his fellow drivers’ indeterminate ages (kids? teens? twenty-somethings?) serve to confuse the matter further. If early-grade comics are needed, then this fills the gap, nothing more.

Not Recommended.

Todd Kyle is the CEO of the Newmarket Public Library in Ontario and Vice-President of the Ontario Library Association.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.
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The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364
Hosted by the University of Manitoba.

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