Imagination takes reality for a grand ride in this Dutch import via Scotland when Charlie and his mother visit a street carnival.
Waiting for his mom to dig his party hat and balloon out of a storage box, Charlie imagines how silly it would be if grown-up bicycle riders needed training wheels, if people rode elephants instead of cars and lived in trees, if the carnival featured lollipop trees, a lemonade river, and a cake as big as the town square. Lo and behold, once he gets his distracted but game parent outside, all of these fantasies turn out to be true—as Törnqvist shows in a series of crowded, exuberant, single and double gatefolds. These open to reveal scenes filled with life and color, extravagantly costumed carnivalgoers, surreal details, and droll side business. Having ridden the elephants, climbed trees, rowed on the pink river, and chowed down on the humongous cake “until Mama’s dress was tight and Charlie’s tummy was full,” the two make their way home at day’s end, and Charlie snuggles into bed, envisioning “candy ladders and gingerbread jackets,” among further wonders on the morrow. Joining carnival crowds diverse in age, dress, and color, Charlie and his stylishly dressed mother (both black-haired) in some scenes look white but in others are depicted with lightly toned skin.
A joyful celebration of free-range fantasizing. (Picture book. 5-7)