A teacher tries several methods of transportation to get to work before deciding to buy a car in the picture book The Lovely Car.
Mrs. Graham rides her bike to work, but one day she falls from the bike and feels embarrassed when students see her mishap. She then tries various alternate transportation options: She takes the bus but is squashed in her seat; she tries the train but has to get up very early to catch it. She also tries her scooter and walking. Finally, with her cat Sugei, she decides to buy a car. After visiting many salesmen and seeing cars that are too big, too small, too fast, too long, and too uncomfortable, she feels depressed. But with one last try, she finds a perfect, lovely pink car.
The book’s language is appropriately simple and the story straightforward. The art is appealing, with emotive, cartoon-like characters and telling details, such as the framed picture in Mrs. Graham’s home of her with her cat Sugei and the bags under her eyes when she stands at the train platform. Running commentary by animal characters observing the proceedings—such as, “Very hard to park this car,” or “Nice color pink”— is also entertaining.
However, the story shifts oddly between first and third person, and the inconsistent use of quotation marks is distracting and confusing. For example, one page reads, “Today is Tuesday and I’m going to go to school on the bus” with quotation marks, while the following pages make similar statements about the train and scooter without quotes.
Additionally, while the book seems to convey a lesson in persistence, as Mrs. Graham perseveres in her car mission, one might wonder why she doesn’t simply purchase another bicycle and whether her embarrassment about a bike accident should be a major factor in her transportation decisions.
Ultimately, some rethinking of the message, as well as more thorough editing, would enhance The Lovely Car’s appeal.
Also available as an ebook.