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Racecar Alphabet

Racecar Alphabet

by Brian Floca

A is for Automobiles, machines on wheels.
B is for Belts turning, fuel burning, the buzz and bark of engines.
C is for Curves and crowds and cars, of course —
A century of racecars, from bare beginnings to present-day marvels, from stock cars to Formula 1, from Ford to Ferrari, caught in crackling action, in fan-friendly


A is for Automobiles, machines on wheels.
B is for Belts turning, fuel burning, the buzz and bark of engines.
C is for Curves and crowds and cars, of course —
A century of racecars, from bare beginnings to present-day marvels, from stock cars to Formula 1, from Ford to Ferrari, caught in crackling action, in fan-friendly pictures, and in words that bounce and jounce for the fun of it.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Floca (Five Trucks) brings a whole new meaning to the term "accelerated learning" with this journey through the alphabet, framed as a history of the race car. Although his alliterative text doesn't always possess the purr of a high performance engine ("Curves across the course cause cars to careen and to crowd and come close to colliding"), his crisp watercolor-and-ink spreads never reduce their speed. Starting with the primitive Renaults and Fords at the turn of the 20th century and ending with a streamlined Ferrari Formula 1 of today, Floca zooms the vehicles around the many locales of racing, from the Indy-style oval tracks to the challenging road courses common to Europe. He consistently finds the most dramatic angle, whether a close-up of a 1962 Lotus 25 driver straining against g-forces, or the head-on view of a 1940 BMW 328 as it bears down on the track (all makes are identified on the endpapers). Sidestepping racing's gorier side (the crashes depicted are casualty-free, and "X" depicts the X-ray of a racer's relatively minor leg break), he captures both the blur of action and the meticulous details so important to young fans. Ages 4-7. (Nov.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
In his opening note, racecar aficionado Brian Floca states that the modern Formula-1 racecar hardly seems related to the early simple models, but Floca traces the history of the sport. Text is organized as an alliterative ABC book ("Passing, outpacing, pressing the pedal and pulling ahead") while the early letters of the alphabet are illustrated with racers from the early part of the twentieth century. We start with the Ford 999 from 1901 and end tidily a hundred years later with the Ferrari F1-2001. The end papers review and name all of the cars Floca lovingly depicts in loose-line watercolors. The pictures have energy, a variety of perspectives, dramatic use of color and close-up views, and even some humor. While the problematic X is, of course, for x-ray, "Yelp!" states the driver who is in the doctor's office for an "X-ray after an accident" and Z is for Zoom. With all of the many courses, crashes, pit-stops, dashboard details, and racing uniforms depicted, the mostly-boy audiences for the sport and any machine lover will enjoy looking at the pictures while hearing or reading the exuberant text. Nice job, and an attractive package for luring older reluctant readers into print. A sure "Winner, waving wildly!" 2003, Atheneum,
School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 2-The alliterative, rhyming text features each letter of the alphabet in sequence and is accompanied by attractive watercolors of racing scenes. Each page's text focuses on some aspect of the sport and an often-repeated letter (e.g., "Helmets holding heads"). While clever, the writing is occasionally stilted due to the requirements of the setup. Realistic, double-page paintings depict a variety of authentic racers, including Formula 1, Indy/CART, sports cars, and stock cars, which progress chronologically, with early models at the start and modern ones following. Almost all the drivers and officials are white men, but spectators are a diverse crowd and the doctor treating an injury is a woman. Endpapers illustrate each of the machines depicted and identify them by year, make, and model. Similar in concept to Anne Miranda's Vroom, Chugga, Vroom-Vroom (Turtle, 1998), Floca's book is more appealing due to its superior illustrations and their faithfulness to real racecars.-Jeffrey A. French, Euclid Public Library, OH Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
On the title spread, a 1901 Ford bears down on the reader, its determined driver bent on speed-the first of many to come. Alliterative statements take readers through the alphabet and a hundred years of racecars: "Eyes in the audience, each open and eager, expecting excitement (enduring exhaust). / Flat feared and fought, the driver's foe" accompanies a double-page spread of 1920s-era racegoers watching as five cars blur by-and one driver kicks a flat tire in frustration. A variety of startling perspectives aided by loose ink drawings and streaky watercolors create an astonishing sense of movement and speed. The humor inherent in much of the text-"X-ray after an accident. / 'Yelp!' "-may be lost on the preschool set, but not on the patient adults who will be asked to read this offering again-and again-and again. An enthusiastic author's note outlining the history of auto racing and endpapers depicting all the cars with years and makes provide some educational content, but it's the zooming spreads that drive this book. Hold on to your hats! (Picture book. 3-7)

Product Details

Atheneum/Richard Jackson Books
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
10.70(w) x 12.10(h) x 0.40(d)
AD610L (what's this?)
Age Range:
4 - 7 Years

Meet the Author

Brian Floca is the author and illustrator of Locomotive, winner of the 2013 Caldecott Medal; Moonshot: The Flight of Apollo 11, a Robert F. Sibert Honor Book and a New York Times Best Illustrated Book; Lightship, also a Sibert Honor Book; and Racecar Alphabet, an ALA Notable Children’s Book. He has illustrated Avi’s Poppy Stories, Kate Messner’s Marty McGuire novels, and Jan Greenberg and Sandra Jordan’s Ballet for Martha: Making Appalachian Spring, a Sibert Honor Book and winner of the Orbis Pictus Award. You can visit him online at BrianFloca.com.

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