From the Publisher
"The depth of emotion will attract early readers. The detailed illustrations are realistically depictive of the city and done in subtle chalky hues." --Kirkus Reviews
"A kid's-eye view of the world, where physical presences offer rock-solid comfort." --Publishers Weekly
"Would be a lovely read-aloud for children and would be a great tie-in for first grade curriculum on communities." --Library Media Connection
In this understated and affecting story, Aaron's mama wants a better life for her family-"someplace clean and beautiful." To her, that means moving the family away from the smelly, noisy city street corner where they live and operate a tire business. Aaron loves his corner and the mountain of used tires produced by his father's work ("Dad can change a tire faster than I can say Aaron Jacob Johnson"). When his mother shows him a pamphlet with pictures of "perfect" suburban houses, he wishes he could "tear it into a thousand pieces." Détente is finally reached after Aaron turns a nearby empty lot into a clean, beautiful place of his own--a playground outfitted with flower gardens, a swing, a tunnel and sandbox, all built with tires from the mountain. Cheng (Marika) gracefully articulates the quiet understanding arrived at by mother and son. "Mama folds the pamphlet and uses it like a fan," she writes. " 'When we do move, some day," asks Aaron gingerly, " 'do you think we could take a tire... to make a tire swing?' " " 'That could be arranged,' " responds Mama with a hug. At first glance, Condon's (Sky Scrape/ City Scape) blocky paintings feel wooden in comparison with the emotionally astute prose; even Aaron doesn't seem quite at home in his environment. But as the story unfolds, the warm colors and mural-like qualities feel absolutely right. It's a kid's-eye view of the world, where physical presences offer rock-solid comfort. Ages 4-8. (Aug.)Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Children's Literature - Elizabeth Young
Aaron's mother is tired of living in the inner city. Aaron does not know of any better place to live, and does not want to move. How does he resolve the problem? We do not know for sure or how it will end, but we do know he makes the best of a difficult situation, with a little inspiration from a neighbor. It is convenient to live near your job, but when your job involves flat tires, the smell of rubber, and a lot of traffic, you realize it is not the best situation for your children. Aaron does not agree, and he is the child! He makes mountains out of tires and learns from Miss Mattie of a plan to make the corner a nicer place to live. Amidst the brochures of new homes and dreams of freedom are seeds of creativityand of Four o'clocks, that take shape in the form of a new playground, and a new resolve in Aaron's mothers' heart. Even the mean teenagers cannot help but notice the change, though we are left wondering what will become of them. Condon's illustrations work very well with the story, though neither is stellar, but they are complementary. If only all adults could come to a compromise this easily!
Aaron's dad owns a tire-service shop next door to their house. To Aaron, the odors emanating from the shop are the ambient aromas of home, but his mother complains and wants to move, "someplace clean and beautiful." Aaron, though, loves to play on his ever-growing mountain of tires on which, come evening, he and his dad perch. As his mother begins looking for a new house, Aaron grows increasingly distraught and tensions rise at home. Meanwhile, a couple of bullies are cruising the blocks, making Aaron uneasy. Then he notices the tree on a patch of grass across the street-perfect for a tire swing. Soon he adds a tire tunnel and creates a tire garden from which flowers burst. Mom still wants to move, but with the new neighborhood gathering place of recycled tires, urgency and tension have eased. This text-heavy and multifaceted story is somewhat fraught with anxiety and will exclude the younger picture-book set, but the depth of emotion will attract early readers. The detailed illustrations are realistically depictive of the city and done in subtle chalky hues. (Picture book. 5-9)