If I Could Drive, Mama

Cari Best, illus. by Simone Shin. FSG/Ferguson, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-374-30205-4
Inviting Mama to take a spin in his cardboard box car (“the zippiest car in the whole world!”), young Charlie takes firm control of both the driver’s seat and the role of narrator. As Charlie and Mama make stops around their house, mimicking familiar mom-and-kid errands (the library, the diner, the nail parlor), his exuberant running commentary reflects a wealth of observations gleaned as a backseat passenger and Mama’s sidekick. “Back in the car we sing ‘The Wheels on the Bus’ because it’s our favorite traveling song,” writes Best (My Three Best Friends and Me, Zulay). “But only you do the motions since both my hands have to be on the steering wheel.” Shin’s (The Red Bicycle) light-as-soufflé vignettes reveal that Mama is game for anything, even letting Charlie apply nail polish at the “Pretty Please” salon (aka the bathroom). Readers may wonder how the car survives a sprinkler shower and a scrub down without falling apart, but otherwise this is a wonderful tribute to an imagination in perpetual motion. Ages 4–6. Illustrator’s agent: Kelly Sonnack, Andrea Brown Literary. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 10/03/2016
Release date: 11/22/2016
Genre: Children's
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