cover image Cars Galore

Cars Galore

Peter Stein, illus. by Bob Staake, Candlewick, $15.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-7636-4743-8

This homage to the exuberant picture books of the 1960s (think P.D. Eastman) celebrates autos with unabashed pleasure. "Black car, green car,/ nice car, mean car,/ Whoa! Bizarre car!" Staake (The First Pup) creates a ludicrous menagerie of highly unconventional automobiles with dome windows, rocket engines, feet along the bottom like millipedes, and checkerboard doors, piloted by humans and animals of every age and stripe. (Noah's Ark even gets an automotive makeover, and the aforementioned "bizarre" car is adorned with wings, an umbrella, a jack-in-the-box, and a Viking helmet.) Black roads crisscross the pages, telephone wires obscure the view, and the roar of traffic is almost audible. Traffic jams, breakdowns, construction, carsickness ("Rusty, dusty,/ hunk-of-junk car./ Stinky, yucky,/ smells-like-a-skunk car")—none of it fazes Stein, who's unapologetic about the degree to which American society is dominated by cars. He even issues an invitation: "Fun drive, sun drive,/ Got-to-run drive!/ Dream drive, cool drive.../ Someday YOU'LL drive!" Add in the book's interactive seek-and-find dimension, and readers won't need much temptation to join a world that's this full of action. Ages 4–8. (Mar.)