Prather’s Pick: ‘Poem-Mobiles: Crazy Car Poems’ is an imaginative, wacky book

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From time to time, while watching the news or special documentaries on television, we learn about the auto makers’ plans for cars of the future. We’ve heard about cars that run on discarded vegetable oil and cars that run on natural gas, but I’ll bet that you’ve never heard of a car that runs on a “ton of sauerkraut” or spaghetti or a car that is carried from place to place by a bunch of balloons or large rubber bands.

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Diane Prather

“Poem-Mobiles: Crazy Car Poems,” written by Patrick Lewis and Douglas Florian and illustrated by Jeremy Holmes, is an imaginative picture book that provides the reader with a sneak preview of futuristic cars, all of which are pretty wacky. The accompanying descriptions of the cars are in rhyming poetry, which makes the book all the more fun. Sally Beauchamp, children’s librarian at the Moffat County Library, said kids love the book.

The book is published by Schwartz & Wade Books, an imprint of Random House LLC (2014).

“Poem Mobiles” is intended for ages 4 to 8. However, other readers will appreciate the book’s creativity, and as with other picture books, it takes an adult to “catch” some of the humor included in the illustrations. In this case, a king travels past a “Royal Throne,” an outside bathroom, complete with a roll of paper towels on a hanger.

Among the cars is a “High-Heel Car” that belongs to an old woman who lives in it. The reader can see the woman through a small, open window at the top of the shoe. The size-84 red shoe has three wheels, one on the heel of the shoe and the other two up front. The car has headlights, a racing flag, two pipe-like pieces of apparatus that come off one side and even a strap that runs across the shoe.

The shoe car has been judged first place in the 1st Backyard Classic, but it isn’t racing in the Shoebox Derby that’s in progress. It’s pictured on the second half of the two-page spread. A white size-84 white “High-Heel Car” (identical to the red shoe) comes in first, followed by a shoe car that resembles a wooden shoe, then a “Cowboy Boot Car” and two cars made from tennis shoes.

The “Sloppy-Floppy-Nonstop-Jalopy” looks more like the autos we know, except that it’s made from some very unusual objects. The car’s top is made from birch, and six sea gulls are perched on top. The engine is made of tin cans, a coffee pot and a frying pan, where an egg is frying. The steering wheel is a discarded telephone, the wheels are from the Colosseum and the rubber tires are from “slightly used” pink bubble gum. The farmer, who is chewing on a piece of grass, drives the car as he sits in the seat that came from a throne in Zanzibar.

The “Hot Dog Car” is a bun with wheels, a front window and a steering wheel. A hot dog, covered with mustard, is on top. The car runs on mustard when the sauerkraut runs out. This car is edible!

One of the most unusual cars in the book is the “Paper Car,” which is fashioned from paper that is cut and folded to make the car body, roof, seats and wheels. A ballpoint pen and large paperclip are attached to the front of the car. When this car breaks down, all the owner has to do is shred it.

Even the biographical information about the creators of this book is presented in a creative way. There are three “licenses” resembling drivers’ licenses on the inside flap of the book cover. Each license includes a drawing of the illustrator or writer’s face, his address and Web information.

This is a great book. “Poem-Mobiles” costs $17.99 in hardcover, or you can find it at the Moffat County Library.

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