Reviews /

Professor Wooford McPaw’s History of Cars

Authored by Elliot Kruszynski
Illustrated by Elliot Kruszynski
Published by Cicada Books

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The characters who take us through the book really make this an original non-fiction picture book about the history, design, engineering, technology and innovation of car-making. On the very first page we’re introduced to Professor Wooford McPaw, a cartoon dog, and the style of humorous conversation alongside facts that will take us through the book is set. It’s a shame we don’t get to know the name of his very knowledgeable sidekick red car though! Prof McPaw does however introduce us to another character we see throughout the book, Mrs Tab, who pops up on many pages throughout the book giving us extra facts. It’s a nice humorous touch that she is the contents heading with a speech bubble, ‘Hiya Prof! Ok, let’s take a look at what’s inside this book.’ I think this humour will appeal to the young reader it’s aimed at. I laughed at the first chapter in the contents, ‘BC (Before Cars)’.

The illustrations, which reminded me of Richard Scarry, are in primary colours and work well with the layout of the comic book style, the cartoon characters and dialogue which add to the fun, humorous element of this book. At the same time, it’s full of information and you really do come to the end knowing a great deal about cars. The contents and index help too as you may want to revisit to find out something specific such as a car type or electric cars or even more specific, the exhaust system! Also, the layout of each page or double spread adapts to the kind of information there. For instance, it’s really helpful on the pages, ‘How Does a Car Work?’ that it’s set out in a numbered diagram taking you through it step by step. Whereas the page on facts on sports cars is set out as Professor Wooford McPaw’s favourites displayed as model cars on shelves with their name above and some fascinating facts in a text box and a big sign saying, ‘Do not touch!’. I loved how the double spread on early motor racing is set out as a racetrack snaking across the pages with cars racing and facts in a text box next to each car. It’s so creatively designed that this in itself could become a talking point and a stimulus for children to think creatively how they would design and present their facts on other topics.

This book will appeal to young readers in years 2, 3 and 4 although I think the density and wealth of knowledge will also appeal to older readers who enjoy a comic book format. It would be a brilliant addition to classroom bookshelves or the school library for those readers who prefer this style of reading and who are particularly interested in cars as it will seriously aid their thirst for knowledge. It’s a fantastic book for children to take home and share with any family members or carers with knowledge or interest in cars, as not only will they like it too but they could help with some of the technical words used. One wish is that the book had included glossary for these words.

There is also a theme of cars and their impact on the environment and throughout it offers many opportunities to ask questions and discuss different aspects about cars and car use, such as the pros and cons of electric cars and the size of cars and engines versus their fuel efficiency. In keeping with the fun cartoon, comic style of the books it also has some other interactive activities for the younger readers: there’s a maze in the middle of the book and when you reach the last page, you’re invited to find five of Professor Wooford McPaw’s golden bones hidden throughout the book.

This is an incredibly informative picture book about past, present and future cars covering a wide range of aspects of the car. This coupled with the humorous style of writing and colourful cartoon illustrations make this a fantastic must-have book for any child with an interest in cars and indeed, like me, anyone of any age who has car enthusiasts in their family!