In four connected short stories set in a tiny African village, No. 1 fulfills his dream of seeing a Pontiac Firebird up close and meeting its professor owner.
Oluwalese Babatunde Benson is not No. 1 at slingshot or at school, but he is excellent at identifying cars and is full of bright ideas. He's the one who dispatches the leopard with hot-chili-pepper soup, figures out a way to get stranded bus passengers across a flooded road and on their way, and finds a use for Mama Coca-Cola's too-hot new house. Underlying these simple stories are some significant cultural ideas. These villagers cooperate with each other, sharing their furnishings and their work. It’s not necessary to be No. 1 at more than one thing, Grandfather says. “That way we need one another.” The sharp corners, white plaster and corrugated iron roof of Mama Coca-Cola’s modern new house turn out to be wrong for the climate; it may be unhealthy to live in, but it's perfect for a restaurant serving both traditional and modern eaters. Cadwell’s grayscale cartoons add to the gentle humor of Nigerian-born Atinuke’s engaging, stand-alone sequel to The No. 1 Car Spotter (2011).
A delightful immersion in an unfamiliar world for early chapter-book readers. (Fiction. 7-11)