CM . . . . Volume XVI Number 17. . . .January 8, 2010.
Dadís Van. (Tadpoles).
Mick Gowar. Illustrated by Rory Walker.
St. Catharines, ON: Crabtree, 2010.
24 pp., pbk. & hc., $7.95 (pbk.), $18.36 (hc.).
ISBN 978-0-7787-3897-8 (pbk.), ISBN 978-0-7787-3866-4 (hc.).
Kindergarten-grade 2 / Ages 5-7.
Review by Bruce Dyck.
It was holiday time.
But the van would not start.
Dadís Van, part of Crabtreeís Tadpole series aimed at beginning readers, is about a family that is ready to leave for a holiday. But when Dadís van will not start, Dad gets out to push it. Soon Mom, the two kids and all four pets, a dog, a cat, a bird and a hamster, are out of the van giving Dad a hand. As is to be expected, the van starts with no one inside. The family gives chase, only to finally catch the van when it stops in a mud puddle. Once again, the van will not start, and rather then pushing it again, Mom suggests they use their bikes for the trip instead.
As this is a book aimed at beginning readers, the illustrations have a large role to play, and they are more then up to the task. The illustrator, Rory Walker, has done an excellent job. He avoids any type of generic illustrations, something that would be easy to do given the story. Instead, he gives us a believably worn VW micro bus (no logos but the shape is unmistakable), a multi-ethnic family that looks like a real family, and four interesting pets. (My favourite is the bird who looks like some sort of yellow toucan.) Rory keeps his standard high right to the end, depicting the family leaving on its bike holiday, with mom and dad on a tandem while brother and sister are both riding bikes appropriate to their characters. Also, much to my delight, Rory has everyone, including the pets, wearing helmets.
When compared with the fabulous job done on the illustrations, the text is a bit of a letdown. The story is just too much of a cookie cutter formula. The idea of a dad with a problem affecting the family, the family jumping in to help dad solve the problem and failing, only to have mom save the day has been done, and redone. Given such great illustrations, it would have been nice to have the text do a bit more.
From a technical standpoint, the text is clear and easy to follow and does match up well with what is portrayed in the illustrations. As a whole, the book is well done, the illustrations are excellent, and the text, while not anything special, is ok.
Residing in Winnipeg, MB, Bruce Dyck is currently employed by his wife and two sons as a stay-at-home dad.
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