Friday, August 16, 2019

Review - Mitchell's License

Mitchell's License
by Hallie Durand
illustrated by Tony Fucile
Date: 2011
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Reading level: C
Book type: picture book
Pages: 40
Format: hardcover
Source: library

Hop in for a hilarious, heartwarming ride with four-year-old Mitchell, a kid with a need for speed, a lead foot, and a very special license to drive.

Mitchell was four years, one month, and five days old when he got his license. He may need a little boost getting into the driver’s seat, but once he’s behind the wheel, his car sure goes fast! Left turn, right turn, slow down for speed bumps - Mitchell is a pro. And he loves the way that horn sounds! There’s just one problem: Mitchell and his car have a slight disagreement about what type of fuel should go into the tank.... With warmth and sly wit, Hallie Durand follows a young child obsessed with all things automobile, while Tony Fucile’s comical illustrations convey the well-tuned bond between an obliging father and a high-octane child.

(synopsis from Goodreads)

Having just read another picture book about a high-energy kid that I didn't really enjoy, I went into this one with some trepidation. But, after all, this is illustrated by Tony Fucile... so how could I say no? The fact is, while Mitchell may be a bit of a nuisance to put to bed, he's not a bad kid. Watching his adventures in learning to drive his "car" is pretty fun.

The premise is apparently based on a game the author's children played with their dad. "Remote-Control Dad" is the game Mitchell and his father play here. Mitchell has to "drive" his dad around the house, and eventually into bed. It takes a while for Mitchell to get the hang of things (an early attempt results in a "crash"; kudos to Dad for playing along!), but when he does, it's smooth sailing. The only problem comes when it's time to refuel. The driver and the "car" have very different ideas about what constitutes appropriate "gas", and this results in an "emergency", complete with flashing lights, as the "car" puts his foot down. The interactions between father and son are really cute, while still showing that the parent is fully in charge of the situation (even if the kid thinks he's the one in the driver's seat).

The illustrations are absolutely adorable. I first encountered Fucile's work in the Bink & Gollie books. The style he uses here is much the same, except the pictures are in colour. The animated expressions on the characters' faces really bring the whole adorable story to life.

The plot is very simple but, given the age of the main character, this is a book intended for very young children, so it doesn't need to be complicated. Kids will love watching Mitchell drive his "car" to bed, while adults will get a kick out of seeing the joy that this little game brings both father and son.

Premise: 4/5
Meter: n/a
Writing: 4/5
Illustrations: 5/5
Originality: 5/5

Enjoyment: 5/5

Overall: 4.67 out of 5

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