Tug of War (Hardcover)

By John Burningham, John Burningham (Illustrator)

Candlewick, 9780763665753, 32pp.

Publication Date: August 6, 2013

List Price: 16.99*
* Individual store prices may vary.


A Nigerian folktale — one of the first picture books John Burningham ever illustrated — comes to life again with a text by the venerable illustrator.

Hare, Hippopotamus, and Elephant all live together in the forest. But often, when Hippopotamus and Elephant have nothing better to do, they tease Hare and say horrid things to him. When Hare finally gets fed up with them, he conceives a plan: he will challenge each of the massive creatures to a tug-of-war competition. On either side of the trees, Elephant and Hippopotamus pull and tug all through the night, incredulous that Hare could be so strong! With cheeky wit and his signature illustrative style, John Burningham makes the case that even brute strength can be outweighed by brains — and a quick getaway.

About the Author

John Burningham (1936-2019) was one of the world’s most recognized and beloved illustrators. His work has received countless awards, including a Boston GlobeHorn Book honor for It’s a Secret! and two Kate Greenaway Medals. Over his fifty-year career, John Burningham wrote and illustrated more than thirty picture books, including Picnic, Motor Miles, and Mouse House. He and his wife, Helen Oxenbury, had three children.

Praise For Tug of War

Burningham’s new text is typically unsentimental; school-age boys will probably find it outrageously funny.
—The New York Times Book Review

Young audiences will relish the outcome of this simple trickster tale and likely be startled into laughter by its edgy language.
—Kirkus Reviews

An entertaining, pithy story... [G]orgeous, witty art. ... A welcome revival.
—The Horn Book

[A] classic brains-over-brawn tale, made memorable by Burningham’s signature illustrations and witty text (poor Hare is called everything from a “little runt” to a “little weed”). It’s oh-so-satisfying when quick-moving Hare gets the last laugh, and Burningham’s many fans will be happy (hoppy?) to introduce this spiffed-up story to a new generation.
—Booklist Online