On The Go Awesome by Lisl H. Detlefsen, illustrated by Robert Neubecker. Alfred A. Knopf, 9781984852342, 2020
Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 4
What did you like about the book? This sprightly and large picture book charts one little boy’s obsession with modes of transportation. Watercolors, pencil and a nicely textured heavy paper are used to great effect as the main character progresses from looking at airplanes, trains, construction equipment and other big machines to imagining himself in the driver’s seat. The overall page composition is really eye-catching as the child flits from observation to participation in his daydreams, with the type also progressing from an easy-to-read, ordinary serif font, to crazy hand drawn awesomeness. Colorful endpapers show appealing sketches of the various vehicles, each in a different bright color, in various sophisticated yet simple renderings. The little boy and his family (sister, mom & dad) present as white, although they live in a diverse city filled with people of many different colors and cultures. In the end, he realizes that campers are pretty cool, and that traveling across the country, camping with your family, is awesome in its own way.
Anything you didn’t like about it? Not much in the way of narrative. It’s really just a series of comments, ending with the camper, which the boy actually gets to enjoy in real life. Although the artwork is beautiful, I can’t imagine reading this more than once. I think the target audience might want photos, real information or more of a storyline.
To whom would you recommend this book? The vehicle-obsessed between ages 3-5. Large format images and sing-song repetition of the word “awesome” make this a reasonable choice for a read aloud.
Who should buy this book? Public libraries
Where would you shelve it? Picture books
Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? No
Reviewer: Susan Harari, Keefe Library, Boston Latin School, Boston, MA
Date of review: December 29, 2020