Saturday, June 1, 2013

The No. 1 Car Spotter and the Firebird by Atinuke illustrated by Warwick Johnson Cadwell

Here is a very different and terrific book for children who are just beginning to develop confidence with reading - especially boys.

I am always on the look out for simple chapter books that move students beyond "reader-style" books onto real books with satisfying stories and luckily I have found another one.

No. 1 (his real name is Oluwalase Babatunde Benson) is a boy who lives in poor village in Africa.

"In my village we do not have television, or even electricity. We do not have shops or even traffic lights. We have compounds, where we live. We have farms, where we work.  We have the river where we play. And best of all we have the road that runs past the village, carrying buses and lorries and cars from one city to another."

No. 1 is a car spotter - the best in his village.  All his friends and family have delightful (nick) names like Uncle Go-Easy,Coca-Cola, Nike and Emergency.

Each chapter in this short book is a self contained story but the stories are all linked so that by the final chapter it seems No. 1 might finally get to see his favourite car close up and perhaps even go for a ride.  In the meantime there are problems to overcome such as when a leopard is bothering the goats, Mama Coca Cola needs to attract new customers to her akara stall and the river is in flood and people going to a wedding are desperate to get across.  No. 1 is not just a car spotter he is a thinker and problem solver.

We have two books from this series in our library.  The No. 1 car spotter and the car thieves and The No. 1 car spotter and the Firebird.  It would be fun to read these aloud in a family.  They remind me of the writing of Alexander McCall Smith.  I can see we still need to buy the first book The No. 1 car spotter.

Here is some information about the author.  We also have the Anna Hibiscus books in our library.

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