Cars Galore, written by Peter Stein and illustrated by Bob Staake, is the perfect book to give to a four-year-old boy. There's no story to it. Instead, each page spread depicts several different types of outlandish cars, built along some common theme, described via brief, bouncy, four-line poems. Like this:
"Quick drive, ICK drive!
Round and round drive!
The latter format (also seen on other pages) reminded me of Cynthia Lord's Hot Rod Hamster) and Deborah Heiligman's Fun Dog, Sun Dog (which we have in board book format, and read aloud often). It works very well for read-aloud, and the repeated rhymes and short lines probably make this a good book for new readers. The brisk, bouncy text, punctuated with plenty of exclamation points, suits the topic of cars to a T.
But it's the illustrations that will probably make young readers, especially boys, pore over Cars Galore. Everything is vintage Bob Staake (see my review of The Donut Chef). People with odd geometrically-shaped heads, and faces of unusual colors. Cars in polka-dot, stripes, and plaids. An igloo car manned by a penguin holding a fishing rod. A shark car that looks like a shark, and is also driven by a huge shark with a menacing smile. The "hundred-feet car" is propelled by 100 feet in varied shoes walking along, and is driven by Uncle Sam. One knows from the merest glance at the cover who the illustrator is, and what to expect (quirky fun, with a hint of satire), and Staake does not disappoint.
Cars Galore isn't a book that will keep readers on the edge of their seats, wondering what's going to happen next. But is fun and lively to read aloud, and it features a tremendous assortment of unusual cars, from the creative to the ridiculous. I think it would make the perfect birthday gift for any vehicle-obsessed preschooler.
Publisher: Candlewick (@candlewick)
Publication Date: March 22, 2011
Source of Book: Library copy
Nominated for 2011 Cybils in Fiction Picture Books by: Jennifer Roberts
© 2011 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. This site is an Amazon affiliate, and purchases made through Amazon links may result in my receiving a small commission (at no additional cost to you).