cover image Red Wagon

Red Wagon

Renata Liwska, Philomel, $16.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-399-25237-2

Lucy, a fox cub with a small pink hair ribbon, wants to play with her new red wagon, but her mother asks her to go to the market: "That sounded like a chore. Lucy didn't want to do chores." In the company of her animal friends, though, the errand becomes a string of adventures. With soft colors, rounded forms, and just the right amount of furry cuddliness, Liwska's (The Quiet Book) paintings portray their encounter with a rainstorm (the wagon becomes a boat atop a huge wave); their visit to the market (a circus, with Lucy tossing fruit to a bear on a trapeze); and the wagon's collision with a rock (a space voyage, with wagon as spaceship and vegetables as celestial objects). The contrast between the matter-of-fact text and whimsical interpretations gives the book its momentum; the last line—"Finally, Lucy was free to play with her wagon"—accompanies a portrait of Lucy asleep inside. Liwska's story stays true to the way children see the world, gives the gentlest of pushes toward cooperation, and offers respite from suburban anxiety and busyness. Ages 3–5. (Feb.)