cover image A Drive in the Country

A Drive in the Country

Michael J. Rosen, , illus. by Marc Burckhardt. . Candlewick, $16.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-7636-2140-7

Imagine a family car trip where no one zones out on a Game Boy or iPod, no child whines, “Are we there yet?” and no adult announces, “Don't make me pull this car over!” Rosen's (Elijah's Angel ) sweetly nostalgic story, which features an intriguing picture book debut by Burckhardt, presents three siblings who never quarrel and who can amuse themselves for hours. “We have no destination (at least, Dad won't say just where we're going),” enthuses the narrator, “no reason to be home for supper, no place we need to reach by dark on the map that's as big as a baby blanket spread across our laps.” Burckhardt's crackle-varnished pictures evoke the earnest openheartedness of 19th-century American primitivists as they chronicle the family's journey over hill and dale; the exaggerated panoramas and the highly stylized characters (their faces are almost always seen in severe profile) lend an almost surreal quiet to the pages while also tempering Rosen's tendency to overindulge in lyric idylls. The book may require as much willing suspension of disbelief as a fairy tale does, but it takes readers for a pleasant ride. Ages 5-10. (Sept.)