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Limitless possibilities for future car designs are imagined in a collection of free-wheeling verses.

Everything from food items to animals to bathtubs and more are the inspirations for these strange vehicles. A paper car can be shredded if it breaks down, a bathtub car keeps you clean as you go, and a hot-dog car can be eaten at the end of the ride. A few of the verses refer either explicitly or obliquely to alternative fuels. There’s a battery-powered “Eel-ectric Car” and unused fossil-fueled wrecks in “Jurassic Park(ing),” and in “23rd-Century Motors,” oil and gas are totally passé. With a few exceptions the verses flow naturally with easy rhymes. Oddly, the first four lines of the introductory poem are awkward and not indicative of the mood and swing of the following lines and the remainder of the poems. But Lewis and Florian are both masters at creating lighthearted, fun-filled, breezy poems, and they do not disappoint in this joint venture. The text is placed as if on a stained and folded slip of paper, which is surrounded by Holmes’ highly imaginative, bright and lively illustrations, rendered in pencil and watercolors with digital colors added. Endpapers are tire-tracked, and the contents page matches line drawings to the titles. Young readers will almost certainly be inspired to create their own wacky cars. (Picture book/poetry. 6-9)


Pub Date: Jan. 7, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-375-86690-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade/Random

Review Posted Online: Nov. 12, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2013

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From the Technical Tales series

Young makers will find the Scrap Pack’s enthusiasm infectious, but even as broad overviews, these offer at best incomplete...

A mouse, a bird, and a junkyard frog assemble a car from the ground up—cluing in readers who may be a bit vague on what’s beneath all those hoods…or at least what used to be.

Enlisting his green buddy Hank to supply the parts and feathered Phoebe to draw up the plans, Eli, “king of crazy ideas,” sees his latest project grow from a frame and some miscellaneous loose parts to a nifty blue convertible with a classic 1950s look. At each stage, Sodomka supplies clearly drawn angled or cutaway views with dozens of major components labeled, from “steering knuckle bracket” to “tie rod” and “ball joint.” The gas tank is labeled but seems to be missing, though, and readers who want to know what a “differential” actually does or the purpose of the “indicator switch” are out of luck. Lacey’s claim that an engine “is like the brain of the car” doesn’t bear close examination, either. Moreover, the finished auto isn’t much like most modern cars, as it has no electronic elements, for instance, and is powered by a three-cylinder engine (misleadingly billed as “regular”) quaintly fed by a long-obsolescent carburetor. With an auto under their belts (and with similar oversimplification), Eli’s “Scrap Pack” goes on to an even more ambitious enterprise in How to Build a Plane. In both volumes, closer looks at selected systems or related topics follow the storyline’s happy conclusion, and each broad trial-and-error step in the construction is recapped at the end.

Young makers will find the Scrap Pack’s enthusiasm infectious, but even as broad overviews, these offer at best incomplete pictures. (Informational picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-63322-041-6

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Quarto

Review Posted Online: Aug. 30, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2015

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Effectively soporific, though less broadly diverse in culture than casting.

Intricate cut-paper borders and figures accompany a set of sleepy-time lyrics and traditional rhymes.

Aside from “All the Pretty Little Ponies,” which is identified as “possibly African American,” the selections are a mostly Eurocentric sampling. It’s a mix of familiar anonymous rhymes (“Oh, how lovely is the evening,” “Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, / Bless this bed that I lie on”) and verses from known authors, including Jane Taylor’s “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” (first verse only), Robert Louis Stevenson’s “My Bed is a Boat,” and Rudyard Kipling’s “The White Seal’s Lullaby.” Melodramatic lullabies such as “Rockabye Baby” have been excluded in favor of more pacifistic poems, and in keeping with the cozy tone (though she does show one cat looming hungrily over a mouse hole), Dalton enfolds each entry in delicately detailed sprays of leaves or waves, graceful garlands of flowers, flights of butterflies, and tidy arrangements of natural or domestic items, all set against black or dark backgrounds that intensify the soft colors. A parade of young people—clad in nightclothes and diverse of facial features, hair color and texture, and skin hue—follow a childlike, white angel on the endpapers and pose drowsily throughout.

Effectively soporific, though less broadly diverse in culture than casting. (Picture book/poetry. 6-8)

Pub Date: July 11, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4521-1673-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: April 16, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2017

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