by Richard Peck, published 2006
“Any outrage as big as hiring a librarian was bound to bring everybody out of the woodwork. The hitching rail was chock-a-block with horses and wagons, and there was a farmer’s tin Lizzie…a Ford Model T.”
Humor, eccentric characters, and a love of old cars flows through this historical fiction children’s book. The story unfolds creatively and unpredictably, from beginning to end, as it offers commentary and glimpses of early American life in 1914 in Indiana, just around when the automobile arrived. Those who love car history will especially enjoy this children’s book. (Although the old cars might be an adult passion.) For young readers, it offers good historical fiction with lots of humor and very enjoyable, likable characters.
The heroine is particularly interesting, as she goes through the growing pains of being a young girl who loves cars, to reckoning with what it means to be a young lady, without a mother for a role model.
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this children’s book (except for one incident about their dog, which ends well, but was a bit cruel for a few sentences…). It’s hard to say which children would enjoy it as much as an adult who understands the history can enjoy it. Yet the book is a worthy attempt to use a historical fiction children’s book as a way of enlivening the past, and that makes it well worth finding a way in for kids. It might be best in a classroom. Hard to tell.