At Christmas, my mom mentioned to me that the childrens’ books she gravitates toward are the sweet books, rather than silly or weird. I thought of the books she loved to read to us – Amanda Pig, Bread and Jam for Frances, Blueberries for Sal, Little House on the Prairie – and realized she was very self-aware.
Red Wagon is one I think my mom would like. It is sweet.
In it, Lucy (a little fox (I love books with animal characters, especially when they wear clothes or have hair bows)), gets a new red wagon, and she desperately wants to play with it.
Her mother suggests she uses the wagon to go to the market to pick up vegetables for dinner (apparently these are not carnivorous foxes). Lucy thinks this sounds suspiciously like a chore, but she goes anyway.
At first everything goes smoothly, with a few of her friends joining her on the trip, but then it starts to rain.
And with that rain, the images start to veer away from the text. The text continues to describe her dragging the wagon through the rain, then arriving at the market, gathering vegetables, picking the vegetables up when the wagon overturns, etc, but the images show Lucy’s wagon transforming into a pirate ship, a covered wagon, a construction vehicle, and more, as she makes the journey, imagining it into a great adventure.
I love the discrepancies between the very sweet and simple storyline and the gorgeous, imaginative illustrations that show how Lucy is viewing her own trip.
It’s the perfect balance between the sweetness my mom likes in a book and the cleverness I crave from a picture book.
Copy checked out from my local library