Fast Track Books at the Library

 Check the back seat of the car and under the bed – it’s Food for Fines Week, and that means you can return your overdue library books and do a good deed at the same time. Through next Sunday, for every canned good or non-perishable item that you bring to any branch of the Central Rappahannock Regional Library, we'll deduct a dollar from your overdue fines, up to a maximum amount of $10.00. All contributions go to local food banks.

          While you’re at the library, be sure to take a look at the exhibits. This month at the Headquarters Library, matchbox cars from the collection of Jeremy Harrison fill the second floor exhibit case. Dozens of brightly painted metal cars are set up in and around a garage, complete with service bays, ramps and even a heliport. 

          After your children have had their fill of the exhibit, be sure to check out a few books for young auto enthusiasts.

         “Fasten seatbelts. Off we go! Fast! Fast! Slow…Slow.” In Patricia Hubbell’s “Cars Rushing! Honking! Zooming!” readers will see all kinds of vehicles on the road, including SUVs, fire engines, convertibles and police cars. Sometimes these vehicles need repairs at “Garages where mechanics work, fixing cars that stall or jerk.”  Rollicking rhymes and retro collage illustrations add up to a lively picture book that invites reading aloud to preschoolers.

          First grader Teresa is thrilled when her Abuelito Benito sends her a lowrider for her birthday. At last she can leave her tricycle behind! She takes it outside where she’s the envy of everyone. Her “carrito” may be powered by foot, but its flame-stickered sides and bright green color make it cooler than anything else on the street. Then the inevitable happens: Teresa leaves her little car out in the rain one night and gradually neglects it in favor of watching TV and jumping on her pogo stick. By the time her grandfather comes to visit, the car is looking pretty shabby.

          Gary Soto’s “My Little Car/Mi Carrito” takes a fond look at the distance between promises made and promises kept, brightly illuminated by Pam Paparone’s acrylics in tropical colors. The happy ending will cheer young listeners.

          “Race Car” by David West is an entry in the intriguingly named “Why Things Don’t Work” series.      The premise is that Carrie, an aspiring race car driver, has asked her uncle to help her restore his old race car. There are lots of problems – a broken engine, brakes that don’t work, and bodywork that’s not attached. West uses a cartoon format to explain how everything works – the four-stroke engine, the gear system, brake pads and more. There’s a bit of drama, too, when Carrie tries out the newly repaired transmission and discovers too late that the brakes still aren’t fixed. “Kavroom!” Readers eight and up will learn a lot.  

          If your kids are ready to build their own, but don’t happen to have an old race car lying around, “Amazing Rubber Band Cars” by Mike Rigsby has directions for wind-up racers, models and toys. With enough corrugated cardboard, rubber bands and pencils, kids eight and up will have a ball. As Rigsby reminds us, “Building toys from scratch may inspire a future engineer.”   But as he also notes, building toys together can build memories to last a lifetime.

Originally published in the 4/14/09 Free Lance-Star newspaper.