North and Hall pair up for another imaginative what-if offering (Because I Am Your Daddy, 2010, etc.), this time introducing young readers to different modes of transportation.
A tiny (four-student) multicultural class armchair-journeys with their teacher: “If we had a chopper, we would soar above the cone / of a rumbling volcano as it churns out liquid stone.” Camels would allow the students to see the Egyptian pyramids, and an airboat would be the perfect way to see the Everglades. But this class isn’t afraid to use their own muscles—cross-country skiing in Antarctica, hang gliding in the Outback and kayaking the Grand Canyon. Among others, the adventures include hot air ballooning over China’s Great Wall, seeing Venice by gondola and blasting off in a rocket ship into space. North sticks to the format of the two previous titles, missing the rhythm and rhyme in only a few spots. But she neglects the perfect opportunity to plug reading as the way to see the world, instead ending with, “Our classroom is our vessel, / always headed someplace new. // Because you are our teacher, / We’ll see the world with you.” Hall’s watercolors capture the essential elements of each destination, colors, textures and movement matching the natural world, and a comical mouse that appears in each illustration gives readers something to search for.
A sweet sentiment and a great way to get kids pumped about school and learning—Miss Frizzle would be proud. (Picture book. 4-7)