cover image MY CAR


Byron Barton, . . HarperCollins/Greenwillow, $14.95 (40pp) ISBN 978-0-06-029624-7

With just a few words per page, Barton (Machines at Work) manages to convey simple car facts and an ending with a twist. "I am Sam/ This is my car," begin the first two spreads. Sam adores his red Beetle-esque car (it comically mirrors his own chunky physique), and he takes all the responsibilities of ownership seriously—from maintenance ("My car needs oil/ and a full tank of gasoline") to obeying the traffic laws ("I stop for pedestrians"). Like any car buff, he loves to explain how his automobile works. "My car has lights to see at night," accompanies a painting of Sam driving under a starry sky as the headlights illuminate the typography. On the next page, Sam adds, the car also has "windshield wipers to see in the rain"—a lovely scene that Barton renders from the perspective of the car hood, so that readers gaze at the reassuringly unfazed Sam through a curtain of silvery blue drops. Youngsters will be heartened to know that even when Sam goes to work, he gets to stay behind a wheel: he's a bus driver. Barton's world looks as if it were assembled from a toddler's collection of brightly colored building blocks, while his minimalist text has a plainspoken eloquence and subtle rhythm that will survive countless readings. Ages 2-up. (Aug.)