RACER DOGS

Bob Kolar, Author, Bob Kolar, Illustrator . Dutton $15.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-525-45939-2

Richard Scarry's perilous, hilarious speedways come to mind in this road race among eight distinctive dogs. As the racers and their animal fans crowd the starting line, a simple rhyme reminds them to "Buckle up,/ Drive carefully/ (And please help Zigzag/ Find his key)." Observant readers can identify Zigzag—he's the one pulling at his pockets—and scan the busy spread for a blue pup holding the lost key ring. The timekeeper, a black cat called Mr. Jinx, waves a green flag, and they're off: "The open road!/ Unleashed at last,/ The dogs speed up—/ Their cars are fast." Kolar (Do You Want to Play?), whose crisply defined figures and colors recall J.otto Seibold's style, gives each competitor a memorable personality and a unique, soapbox derby–style convertible. Flop-eared Wags putters along in a shaky tangerine jalopy, Dodger's yellow hot-rod has flames painted on it and pink poodle Trixie drives a flowery, monogrammed coupe. Racer Jack, a beagle in an orange car, has a dangerous habit of zooming the wrong way on serpentine streets and intertwining freeways. Pit stops add to the mêlée ("Pull the spark plugs,/ Change a gasket./ Is it fixed now?/ Please don't ask yet"), and a finish-line frenzy leaves the winner in doubt; readers might nominate the green turtle who has run the course on foot against an overconfident hare. Young motorheads will enjoy the giddy humor and multiple subplots of this speedfest. Ages 3-7. (Mar.)

Reviewed on: 12/23/2002
Release date: 03/01/2003
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