Ready, Set, Go! by Beck Wheeler
Want to see a trio of converted Massey Ferguson tractors heading to the South Pole? Ever spied a Trekka in action on a Waikato farm? What about an NZeta scooter zipping past a Four Square?
Ready, Set, Go is a bright and bubbly new picture book, featuring ten of New Zealand’s heritage transport items. From one of the first electric trams in our country, to Sir Edmund Hillary’s convoy of converted Massey Ferguson tractors, the book takes readers on a journey through our vast transport history.
This fun read-aloud story mixes photographs with cartoons, with two cartoon children taking us on a trip down memory lane. The pair tell a simple story in easy rhyme, with plenty of onomatopoeia and adjectives to describe each of the ten vehicles.
A text box on each double spread provides more history and facts about the specific plane, train or automobile. This mix of simple story combined with fact heavy research gives the book a broad appeal – younger children will enjoy the story, will independent readers can build their factual knowledge.
Author and illustrator Beck Wheeler’s distinctive style works perfectly with the photographs. She overlays her personality-filled people into the book, adding touches of whimsy and humour. The hybrid of styles – echoing the mix of story and fact of the text – would make for a wonderful inspiration and study within a classroom.
The book is of course not a comprehensive compendium of our transport history. There are no John Britten, Bruce McLaren or Bruce Farr designs between the pages. The ten heritage transport objects featured within the book come from MOTAT’s collection, which does mean some key pieces are left out.
As an added bonus, a double spread at the end of the book, featuring historical photographs from 1957 to today, tells the story of how MOTAT came to be.
Ready, Set, Go is the first in a series of educational books by Wheeler and Mary Egan imprint Little Love. It is a welcome addition to any bookshelf for transport-loving Kiwi kids. Wheeler keeps the somewhat technical topic light and fun, while also incredibly informative. I look forward to seeing what slice of Kiwi life gets the picture book treatment next.
Reviewer: Rebekah Fraser
Mary Egan Publishing, RRP $20.00