The second book in the series about Oluwalase Babatunde Benson the village No. 1 car spotter.
Children's Literature - Lisa Colozza CoccaOluwalase Babatunde Benson has earned his nickname, No. 1, by being the best car spotter in his village. The village has no electricity or other modern conveniences, but it is located along a road that cars and buses travel past as they go from city to city. Watching the cars is a form of entertainment for the males in the village and No. 1 can predict what kind of vehicle is coming by the sounds it makes. No. 1 also has a gift for problem solving. There are four short stories within this book, each leading into the one that follows. No. 1 solves the problem about a goat stealing leopard, a flooded road, Mama Coca-Cola's leaky house, and Mama Coca-Cola's business. Although the solutions are clever, they may stir-up more questions in readers than answers. Why doesn't the chili soaked shirt bother No. 1 when he handles it? Why is Mama Coca-Cola's house too bug filled to sleep in, but not too bug filled for the wealthy city people to dine in? Illustrated with black-and-white drawings, this short book is a humorous look into another culture. Unsteady readers may struggle with the broken syntax used throughout. Reviewer: Lisa Colozza Cocca
School Library JournalGr 2�4—Oluwalase Babatunde Benson is the No. 1 car spotter in his small African village. He lives together with the other children, the women, and the elderly. Most of the people rely on their own goats, and on selling food to passersby in order to make a living. No. 1 may be the best at spotting cars, but he does not excel at things he is supposed be good at, like using a slingshot accurately or staying quiet when the elders are talking. He is, however, a problem solver. When he can't hit a leopard with his slingshot and prevent it from taking his family's goats, he comes up with an even better solution involving his grandfather's shirt and some chili pepper soup. When travelers' cars get stuck in because of the rains, No. 1 uses his invention of the "Cow-rolla" to ferry them to dry land. The language in this collection of stories is that of storytelling. While it may stutter on the page, it is clear that reading it aloud would be not only entertaining, but magical as well. Sharing it would also provide the opportunity to explain some of the inevitable questions that children would have about No. 1's friends' names (Coca Cola, Nike, Emergency) and the bigger idea of Westernization, culture, and community. The text is peppered with a good number of illustrations that add humor and move the story along. Even though No. 1's living situation is different from that of many children, readers will identify with his can-do spirit and enthusiasm.—Stacy Dillon, LREI, New York City
Kirkus ReviewsIn four connected short stories set in a tiny African village, No. 1 fulfills his dream of seeing a Pontiac Firebird up close and meeting its professor owner. Oluwalese Babatunde Benson is not No. 1 at slingshot or at school, but he is excellent at identifying cars and is full of bright ideas. He's the one who dispatches the leopard with hot-chili-pepper soup, figures out a way to get stranded bus passengers across a flooded road and on their way, and finds a use for Mama Coca-Cola's too-hot new house. Underlying these simple stories are some significant cultural ideas. These villagers cooperate with each other, sharing their furnishings and their work. It's not necessary to be No. 1 at more than one thing, Grandfather says. "That way we need one another." The sharp corners, white plaster and corrugated iron roof of Mama Coca-Cola's modern new house turn out to be wrong for the climate; it may be unhealthy to live in, but it's perfect for a restaurant serving both traditional and modern eaters. Cadwell's grayscale cartoons add to the gentle humor of Nigerian-born Atinuke's engaging, stand-alone sequel to The No. 1 Car Spotter (2011). A delightful immersion in an unfamiliar world for early chapter-book readers. (Fiction. 7-11)
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