When a cardboard box becomes an imaginary car, Charlie takes Mama to see the town.
Role-playing takes the front seat when Mama is Charlie’s first passenger. “Buckle up, Mama!” he says, and she obeys every word. With a wide smile, this little white boy with pink cheeks tours the house with his mother, both pretending it is the town. The bookshelf becomes the library, the closet becomes Daisy’s Dress Shop, and the kitchen table serves as Charlie’s Diner. The toddler’s narration gives a precise script for each particular stop: “I say ‘I can’t wait to see the new books.’ And you say, ‘I’m going to take home three!’ ” The softly colored illustrations show the gleeful mother-son pair exploring every inch of the house in the cardboard car. The comfortable home and its familiar furnishings are transformed by Charlie’s conversations into a setting for modest adventures that mimic adult behaviors. There are no dragons or hot lava, but rather more realistic role-playing, with flat tires and parking spaces. The rarest plaything of all seems to be Mama, who selflessly acts all day in Charlie’s imaginary world to the point of exhaustion.
Although Charlie seems to be calling all the shots, this is a positive nod to creative make-believe. (Picture book. 3-5)