illustrated by Daniel Rieley
Child's Play International, 2021
<A favorite preschool pastime—watching an assortment of passing vehicles—takes on a new eco-friendly angle.
From an apartment window, two children enjoy waving and saying "Bye" to the multitude of cars that come along their busy city street. "Bye car. / Bye another car. / Bye near car." Once they leave the apartment in the company of an adult, their "Bye"s become more descriptive. "Bye grown-up car. / Bye baby car. / Bye big car. / Bye tiny car." They continue their outing, and the noise and hubbub of city traffic increases. "Bye howling car. / Bye growling car. / Bye noisy car. / Bye quiet car." Simple yet evocative language is balanced by equally minimalist drawings reflecting a hectic and harried environment dominated by the internal combustion engine, often with cars leaving remnants of exhaust behind. Rieley includes face masks as everyone goes about their business. Turn the page, and it is a new day that is greener, calmer, and more pleasantly quiet. The kids are out on another walk; they pass an e-bus, a light-rail tram, and a plethora of people riding bicycles. Gone are the exhaust fumes as well as the face masks. "Hello vehicles / greener, cleaner. / Hello!" Endpapers reflect the transition from fossil fuels to cleaner-powered transportation. The adult and the older child have olive skin and straight, black hair, and the younger child presents White. (This book was reviewed digitally.)
Youngsters will enjoy identifying the various vehicles as they play along. (Picture book. 2-5)
<Most little children are intrigued by the many vehicles that pass them by them as they become aware of the outside world. Quite a few remain fascinated for many years and love to point out the less familiar ones and, encouraged by adults, will make approximately appropriate noises.
At The Letterpress Project, we have noted many times that Childs Play International Publishers always keep the child at the centre of a story and this is another example of that. On the first double page spread we see two smiling children looking out of an upstairs window in a block of flats as a red car drives away to the right. Then we see the scene from their point of view as they look down on the street and watch a green car going in the other direction.
Next we are taken outside with the children and their mother, all wearing facemasks as they walk together along the street. Is this because of the pandemic or because of pollution, or both I wonder? As they travel through the streets they see plenty of other vehicles. There is a simple rhythm to the text that incorporates some adjectives about size and colour. There are some playful descriptions of cars that seem to be increasingly noisy and which have obvious problems with exhaust trails.
By half way through the story it is clear that, as well as being interesting to watch, vehicles can be a bit of a problem. I liked the pages that showed the cacophony so that I could almost hear the loud ice cream van music alongside the 'growling car' with a huge cloud of exhaust smoke behind and an open topped car with people playing a saxophone and a trumpet.
Oh the relief to notice a very quiet car pulling away from an electric charging point!
From this point, everything seems rather chaotic as the traffic builds up and evening arrives:
'Bye, blinking car.
Bye, winking car.
Bye, flashing car.
Bye, dashing car'.
The turn of the page shifts the focus to travelling by E-bus as a possible solution to all the noise and pollution. I presume that this 'new day' is meant to be sometime in the future, as, nobody seems to be wearing facemasks any longer – obviously another point for further discussion with children. Now the repeated refrain is a warmly expressed 'Hello'. The same roads are now packed with people riding all kinds of bicycles, scooters and skateboards, and a tram. A group of children walk along wearing high viz jackets, perhaps on their way to school.
The last pages show the two central characters waving once again from their flat as they watch the cleaner, greener world below
As with all good picture books, there are many layers to be enjoyed. It is certainly one for those who are keen on spotting different vehicles and it has a simple, repetitive text that is ideal for younger children who are building up their vocabulary. But there is lots to look at and talk about beyond this, for instance in the details of the bold , bright illustrations that show a man walking along with his arm around another man and a woman using a wheelchair with no assistance needed.
<There is, somewhere, someone out there collecting all the picture books with overt COVID-19 elements. Perhaps it's a research library or a book collector. One hopes they'll know to select this book for that collection as well, if they get a chance. Of course, the pandemic isn't the focus of this title. I found it very interesting to see that the masks on the kids are seen as simply an everyday part of life. Few picture books have dared to say as much. But what makes me want to include this book here today is how it cleverly takes a very simple rhyming concept (saying goodbye to different types of vehicles) and transforms it into a bit of subtle messaging about transitioning to greener, cleaner forms of transportation. "Bye, car in a hurry. / Bye, car in a flurry." Danis manages to pack a lot of little details into art that, upon first glance, seems so simple. A nice eco-friendly/pandemic acknowledging/rhyming work of picture book art.>