Can there be room for yet another picture book about cars? Apparently.
This Swedish import (by way of England) provides an original take on this overstuffed genre. The format could not be simpler. There is no connecting narrative, and text is limited to one- or two-word labels for a heady mix of fantasy and traditional vehicles of every conceivable type and purpose, most apparently arbitrarily arrayed on the pages. Bright flat colors and whimsical shapes dominate. The cars depicted feel like a stream of consciousness. Some are funny or silly: “marmalade car,” “sausage car,” “rocket car,” “chewing-gum car,” and, inevitably, “poo car.” A few are a bit obscure for most young children, such as “Mondrian car” or “Jules Verne car.” Some spreads are thematic, Richard Scarry–style, showing real vehicles associated with specific environments, including mining, hospital, agriculture, road-building, and an airport. The book includes an index to all the cars depicted and endpapers showing many of the vehicles in a cityscape. The book is apparently oblivious to the environmental implications of fossil-fueled transport—unless including the “greenhouse car,” the “chimney car,” and the “wood stove car” on the same spread as the “stressed car” is making a subtle point?
The absence of a well-told storyline makes the book feel static, but kids who love cars will enjoy this crazy compendium and will be engaged by the imaginative take on a traditional subject. (Informational picture book. 2-4)