Sam may be a man of few words, but he is certainly eloquent on the subject of his car. With a bright, bold palette of mostly primary colors, author-illustrator Byron Barton (Trucks
, Machines at Work
, etc.) deftly depicts the fondness Sam has for his chunky little car and the care with which he treats it. "I love my car. / I keep my car clean. / My car needs oil / and a full tank of gasoline." Sam also describes the parts of his car, how to drive carefully, and where he likes to go in his car. The story concludes with a twist, sure to delight already rapt readers.
Sam and his acquaintances are unusual-looking, blocky figures, with big black blobs for eyes, and more blobs for nose and mouth. Characters and objects are reminiscent of the cars, signs, and figures in a child's play station. Small details are appealing: the mechanic is a woman, and the car's headlights bathe a portion of the text in yellow. This should be required reading for every driver's ed student; we can only hope that the repeated readings this book is bound to receive will sink in to preschoolers' minds for future recall: "I obey the laws. / I stop for pedestrians. / I read the signs." This is a lovely picture book. (Ages 2 to 5) --Emilie Coulter
From Publishers Weekly
With just a few words per page, Barton (Machines at Work) manages to convey simple car facts and an ending with a twist. "I am Sam/ This is my car," begin the first two spreads. Sam adores his red Beetle-esque car (it comically mirrors his own chunky physique), and he takes all the responsibilities of ownership seriously from maintenance ("My car needs oil/ and a full tank of gasoline") to obeying the traffic laws ("I stop for pedestrians"). Like any car buff, he loves to explain how his automobile works. "My car has lights to see at night," accompanies a painting of Sam driving under a starry sky as the headlights illuminate the typography. On the next page, Sam adds, the car also has "windshield wipers to see in the rain" a lovely scene that Barton renders from the perspective of the car hood, so that readers gaze at the reassuringly unfazed Sam through a curtain of silvery blue drops. Youngsters will be heartened to know that even when Sam goes to work, he gets to stay behind a wheel: he's a bus driver. Barton's world looks as if it were assembled from a toddler's collection of brightly colored building blocks, while his minimalist text has a plainspoken eloquence and subtle rhythm that will survive countless readings. Ages 2-up.
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