The 500-Mile Race is more than just a race for Justin Potemkin. Justin, the grandson of the losing hare in the well-known Tortoise-Hare Race years ago, is the hero of this clever story about a Russian peasant who takes on the czar, Mos Romoonoff, and a tortoise named Lenin in an attempt to win back the honor of hares. Justin is teased endlessly for his ancestor’s loss, his position in life, and his name, which sounds a lot like “pumpkin.” After losing a clearly rigged race to the tortoise and czar, Justin and his two friends, Flamingo Joe and Bob Potamus, leave Russia and move to America, where they settle down and build a racetrack. However, something is missing for Justin Potemkin, who still has scores to settle with the tortoise and Czar Mos.
Justin’s ambitious attempts to outrace those who have mocked him are inspirational for anyone who has been kept down by unfair circumstances or mean people. When the czar comes to America, he will no longer have the power to cheat and determine the outcome of the race. If Justin beats the tortoise, he will never again be teased for the shameful history of his ancestor. Will his second race against Lenin and the czar be a successful one? Will Justin save his pride and regain honor for rabbits everywhere?
Peter Welling cleverly alludes to well-known fairy tales and aspects of political history and foreign culture. Children will be able to draw connections to other stories they have heard and gain knowledge about the history and culture of countries outside of their own. These references encourage children to learn while they are reading this fun and amusing tale.
About the Author/Illustrator
Peter Welling is the father of four and grandfather of three. For many years he was the art director for Futures
magazine and continues to contribute when he has free time. He is a regular columnist for Futures Mysterious Anthology Magazine
and teaches writing and illustration courses for Indiana and Purdue Universities’ Continuing Education Program in Indianapolis. Welling was selected as a Distinguished Alumnus for the Liberal Arts and Sciences Division for 2003 by Indiana University at South Bend and is an active member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. He is the author and illustrator of three other books for young readers: Andrew McGroundhog and His Shady Shadow, Shawn O’Hisser, the Last Snake in Ireland, and Michael Le Soufflé and the April Fool, all published by Pelican. To learn more about Peter Welling, visit his Web site at www.peterjwelling.com.