Wednesday 9 July 2014

That Car!

That Car! written by Cate Kennedy, illustrated by Carla Zapel (Allen and Unwin)
PB RRP $24.99
ISBN 978-1-74331-095-3
Reviewed by Ann Harth 

That Car! is a beautifully illustrated picture book that stimulates the imagination and illustrates the world of wonder that can be found in an old car.

When a family of five moves to a farm, the children find an ancient automobile in the barn that belonged to the old woman who lived there. Dad moves it out under a tree and the kids are free to play. The car becomes a magical vessel that carries them all over the world. They visit the Queen, climb Mount Everest and photograph rare and fascinating animals on an African safari.

Told through the eyes of one of the children, That Car! illustrates the unlimited imagination of young minds while highlighting the precious memories of an old woman. By the end of the book, the woman’s past and the children’s make-believe world are married and the car remains an integral part of the home.

In this age of technology, screens and passive play, That Car! is an important book. The story shows innovation on the part of the characters, while exposing a world of imagination that welcomes anyone who enters. Encouraging a fertile mind using nothing but an old car will invite young readers to explore their own worlds with an open mind and an eye for the fantastic.

That Car! is written in first person with age appropriate and simple language. The illustrations are fanciful and intricate and the reader will enjoy studying each picture for details that enrich the story. This book will appeal to children aged 3-7.

Cate Kennedy has won many awards for her adult fiction including, in 2010, the NSW Premier’s Literary Awards People’s Choice award for her novel The World Beneath. Her poetry and short stories have claimed much attention and she has also written a travel memoir titled Sing and Don’t Cry. That Car! Is Cate Kennedy’s first children’s book and I hope she writes many more.

Carla Zapel is well-known for illustrating Jasper and Abby and the Great Australia Day Kerfuffle written by Kevin Rudd and Rhys Muldoon. She is an illustrator and graphic designer currently residing in Brisbane but has also worked in Sydney, Canberra and London.

Ann Harth is a published children's author and writing tutor at Australian College of Journalism. She loves to read and is committed to creating children's literature that inspires, entertains and triggers a tiny twist in the mind. Her latest middle-grade novel, The Art of Magic, was released in 2012.

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