Fireball Tim’s Big Book of Wacky Rides!
This debut picture book from blogger, movie concept car designer, and TV host Lawrence offers a lineup of more than 30 outlandish vehicles, in lieu of a plot. The contraptions adhere to a formula that gets repetitive: inanimate objects—an alarm clock, sequoia, office building, and bowl of macaroni and cheese among them—are fitted with thick rubber tires, headlights, and chrome galore to become hot rods driven by animals. Snakes steer a power strip (“Snakestrip!”), lightning bugs ride a compact fluorescent light bulb (“The Bulbinator!”), mice straddle a pepperoni stick (“The Galow Rocket!”), and squirrels ride in a boot (“Boot Rescue!”). While some readers will be entertained by the purposefully over-the-top illustrations, the accompanying text is lackluster and further undermined by occasional grammatical errors (“Everyone has to blow their nose”; “Phone polls make cool cars”) and throwaway questions posed by a Fireball Tim icon (“Where do you go to have fun?”; “What’s your favorite pizza topping?”). There’s no questioning Lawrence’s energy or sense of fun, but his talents aren’t enough to offset the book’s weaknesses. Ages 4–up. (Mar.)