Brian Floca, . . Atheneum/Jackson, $15.95 (40pp) ISBN 978-0-689-85091-2

Floca (Five Trucks ) brings a whole new meaning to the term "accelerated learning" with this journey through the alphabet, framed as a history of the race car. Although his alliterative text doesn't always possess the purr of a high performance engine ("Curves across the course cause cars to careen and to crowd and come close to colliding"), his crisp watercolor-and-ink spreads never reduce their speed. Starting with the primitive Renaults and Fords at the turn of the 20th century and ending with a streamlined Ferrari Formula 1 of today, Floca zooms the vehicles around the many locales of racing, from the Indy-style oval tracks to the challenging road courses common to Europe. He consistently finds the most dramatic angle, whether a close-up of a 1962 Lotus 25 driver straining against g-forces, or the head-on view of a 1940 BMW 328 as it bears down on the track (all makes are identified on the endpapers). Sidestepping racing's gorier side (the crashes depicted are casualty-free, and "X" depicts the X-ray of a racer's relatively minor leg break), he captures both the blur of action and the meticulous details so important to young fans. Ages 4-7. (Nov.)