by John Agard
illustrated by Korky Paul
ISBN (PB) 0370324838
ISBN (HB) 0370323467
The Bodley Head

shopping basket Hardback


Those cool guys, Rhino and Hippo, are always boasting about their muscles. It takes a brainy bouncy, bob-bottomed Brer Rabbit to trick them into the greatest tug-o-war contest ever. And by the end of this exuberantly funny fable, the two loudmouths have found out that truly, 'Friendship is longer than rope.'

He was brainy.
He was bouncy.
He was bob-bottomed.
He was Brer Rabbit. And he didn't have many muscles to talk about.

Brer Rabbit has never been so much fun. He's been waiting for years for this combination of bouncing, bounding text and the exuberant, action-packed pictures; here you see him as he really is. Read it out loud! You can tell it was written by someone who loves language, who loves rhythm, who loves to play with words. And Korky Paul has done the same with the pictures.

Here is an illustrator who can put a rhythm in his drawing, look out for the way he gradually takes us into a close-up of Rhino and Hippo heaving and hauling. It's easy to whizz past the endpapers and title page in the rush to get to the story; don't do that with this book. And check out the little details in each picture - my testers were especially taken with the toothy birds. I liked the worms.

Find a child, sit down and read. This is a book you can explore again and again - and enjoy.

THE GUARDIAN, 12/5/98, Vivian French

John Agard and Korky Paul make a riotous combination when they summon up the anarchic spirit of Brer Rabbit in The Great Tug-O-War. With saucy rhythms and even saucier illustrations they recreate the joyful naughtiness of the rascally rabbit as he hoodwinks the great and the greedy. So the boastful rivals hippo and Rhino are lured into a crazy contest that brings them both down to size. Best of all, they end up sharing the joke with the reader. A moral tale, spiced with poetry and laughter.