cars and trucks and things that go

richard scarry has been around since i was a wee tike. i remember that along with Highlights Magazine, his books were a fixture of dentists’ and pediatricians’ offices. i found them incredibly boring (just like Highlights — did anyone ever actually read them??) and wondered whether any child in his or her right mind would read them. i mean, who the hell wanted a book that lacked a storyline? it was never my schtick, and BC didn’t care at all about them, either.

so it came as a major revelation when jools started to enjoy richard scarry. it was a loathsome chore, to be sure, to have to read through the books, chockablock filled with pictures and words. clearly scarry had gone to a ton of trouble drawing and thinking. but it all left me cold.

that is, until cars and trucks and things that go. see, the pig family is going on a picnic. and along the way, there are a zillion types of cars, some of which are, well, extraordinarily silly (a carrot car?? a pencil car??)), much to the delight of a preschooler. then, there’s poor old officer flossie, trying to catch up with naughty dingo, who not only speeds but mauls the poor parking meters. go, officer flossie, go! and then, there’s the added delight of searching for goldbug on every page, out waldo-ing where’s waldo by about 10 years.

[feminist girl here likes the fact that the prime fixer of cars happens to be mistress mouse. she can fix anything. would that i could.]

anyway, while not my favorite book, i actually enjoy reading it in bits and pieces, if only to see how my son giggles every time he sees yet another silly car.

cars and trucks and things that go

9 thoughts on “cars and trucks and things that go

  1. Great! You inspire me to read kids books all over again! and on the Highlights note: you asked, so I’m going to answer. Yes, I read Highlights cover to cover. at the dentist. Hoping I could just skip the actual dentist chair and go home. They always had Highlights at those office places and I think it’s because they knew no one would ever steal them…

  2. I have to admit, I kind of love the Scarry books as an adult, though, yeah, Thea thinks they’re boring. Something about the drawings just looks cool to me. Very retro.

  3. bingo–the Unreliable Narrator loves What Do People Do All Day, Cars & Trucks etc, and all the other richard scarry books. i think it has to do with the practical, everyday information and (if i can generalize) a certain toddler-male need to sort and label everyone/thing with non-fiction literality.

    as for mistress mouse, i think she’s been rehabilitated from older, less feminist versions! see this flickr comparison of 1963 and 1991 versions of the same book:

  4. Every single one of my boys loved Cars and Trucks and Things That Go. They thoroughly enjoyed and destroyed two copies over the years. Wild Thing particularly liked finding Goldbug on each page. Moose liked finding Dingo Dog, that speed demon! I remember loving Richard Scarry as a kid. In fact, we still have my original copy of his Best Storybook Ever; it was a Chanukah gift from my parents in 1967.

  5. cynematic — so cool on the comparison! thanks for sharing.

    and everyone else – who knew that richard scarry brought out something in all of us!

    i wonder if tolstoy wrote any kiddy lit?

  6. OK, confession time…I used to subscribe to Highlights when I was a young ‘un. I think my grandmother kept giving me a subscription as a birthday gift.

  7. Have you read other Scarry books? Have you noticed how un-PC-like they are? In other words, the “typical roles” are as they were in the 1960s. Sometimes amusing, sometimes, well, scary (with one r). — Lynn

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