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Night Cars [Board book]


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Bright lights, big city--and a wakeful baby. In this tale, a pajama-clad tot keeps his father up all night long watching the flow of city life on the street below their window. They see snowplows and fire trucks, taxis, dogs and garbage men. Although the cadence of Jam's rhythmic text falters in a couple of places, for the most part it flows smoothly, making the story especially suitable for reading aloud. Beddows's atmospheric drawings are at times reminiscent of Edward Hopper's works, and his use of muted colors give the pages an appealing nostalgic look. It's an agreeable first book, one that should hold special attraction for city kids. Ages 3-6. (Sept.)

PreS-- The city never sleeps, and that's just fine with some insomniac babies. An apartment window offers a box seat on an all-night street derby: cars, trucks, snowplows, a fire engine--even pedestrians can be more alluring than sleep. The art here focuses on the wakeful child, whose patient father makes bookend appearances (as sole caregiver). Realism, and the play of light, reflect the current Moser-Weisner-Van Allsburg trend. Dramatic changes of distance and perspective are interesting, but puzzling: presumably the child's window is stationary. Perhaps the artist was trying to compensate for the dullness of the text, which, despite being set in verselike lines, is painfully unpoetic (``Night goes/Morning comes''; cars ``bow sic at each red light''). The two-year-old subject is addressed as ``baby'' throughout, although most two-year-olds consider themselves ``BIG boys.'' The jangled rhythm here is fatal in a bedtime book: this one reads all too much like No-Doz prose. --Patricia Dooley, University of Washington, Seattle

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