ISBN 0316120243 - A children's book featuring children who understand the importance of reading... really, what could be bad about that? Not a lot! Add in the positives of characters children recognize with diverse personalities that kids can relate to and you've got a winner. Not because it's a superb book (it's a good book) but because if you hand a child an incredible book that s/he won't read, well that's NOT a winner.
Arthur and his friends all have a different approach to running and when a race to raise funds for a literacy program is announced, their approaches are put to the test. They train, study and prepare for fame. Fern, however, just "enjoys the view" and the pressure from her friends to join them in being competitive drives her to avoid them. On the day of the big race, each of the friends falls victim to their own training choices and the winner is... the winner is the literacy program!
I like that the group to benefit from the race is a program to put books in kids' hands, a nice message for a book to carry. There is the comparison to the tortoise and the hare story, but that hardly takes a genius to make that connection - Arthur himself says it on the last page. Rather than view that as a negative, I recommend using old friends like Arthur to lead your child to Aesop.
The illustrations are cartoon quality but are only black and white, a disappointment for fans of the show. Other than that, a nice chapter book for young readers, with a good lesson in the importance of reading that plants the idea that kids can help others overcome illiteracy.