Review of Strollercoaster

by Matt Ringler; illus. by Raúl the Third and Elaine Bay
Preschool    Little, Brown    32 pp.    g
6/21    978-0-316-49322-2    $17.99

Preschooler Sam needs a nap. “The inside feels too small” for her, and she throws a tantrum. There’s only one solution: her father swings her up into the air and declares, “It’s time to take a ride on the strollercoaster!” Off they zip on a thrilling adventure — up and down the steep roads, bridges, and sidewalks of their neighborhood (“Sam feels like she’s flying!!”) — the girl nestled snugly in her stroller. The dynamic, remarkably kinetic illustrations feature occasional comic book–style panels; speech balloons; bouncy, roller-coaster-esque onomatopoeia (“click clack”; “squeak”); some hand-drawn, oversized fonts; and a heaping dose of visual hyperbole. At one point, for instance, father and daughter zoom up the side of a brick wall. The vivid colors — starting with the fiery oranges and reds of Sam’s angry mood — perfectly convey emotional subtext. Spreads are filled with eye-catching details that reflect the pair’s bilingual community: “TIRED?” reads the side of a building, with “ESTOY CANSADA” under it. After flying through a tunnel on a striking black double-page spread colored in glowing lines, Sam succumbs to sleep — and then both father and daughter end up napping back at home. Preschoolers will identify with Sam’s initial over-exhaustion and may find catharsis in her true-to-life display of anger. An exhilarating trip that viewers will want to take repeatedly.

From the July/August 2021 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Julie Danielson
Julie Danielson
Julie Danielson writes about picture books at the blog Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast. She also writes for Kirkus Reviews and BookPage and is a lecturer for the School of Information Sciences graduate program at the University of Tennessee. Her book Wild Things!: Acts of Mischief in Children’s Literature, written with Betsy Bird and Peter D. Sieruta, was published in 2014.

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