cover image ROY MAKES A CAR


Mary E. Lyons, , illus. by Terry Widener. . S&S/Atheneum, $16.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-689-84640-3

Lyons (Feed the Children First ) and Widener (Girl Wonder ) turbocharge a folktale originally collected by Zora Neale Hurston as part of the 1930s Federal Writers' Project (as stated in an author's note). Adding a heavy dose of southern dialect, Lyons recounts the tale of a mechanic in Eatonville, Fl., with brisk pacing and plenty of colloquialisms. "People from those parts think Roy Tyle is the best mechanic in the state.... Why, he can grease an axle faster than you can say 'carburetor,' and he can clean spark plugs just by looking at them hard." When Roy produces—in only an hour—an "accident-proof car," a gambling man bets against him, trying to instigate fender-benders involving Roy's "stabilated, lubricated, banjo-axled, wing-fendered, low-compression, noncollision car." Widener's acrylics take up the playful exaggeration of the text, depicting scenes of the jet-black, 1930s-styled wonder auto rising up and over (or sliding, low-slung, underneath) the challengers' vehicles. The wide-eyed faces and exaggerated features of the townsfolk add a comic edge and emphasize the hyperbolic tone. After selling a flying car to God, Roy continues puttering in his workshop, leaving readers to wonder what he's up to next. Ages 4-8. (Jan.)