Why I Picked It Up: This adorable little book, Cowboy Car, was received from a publisher (along with SPLATypus!), and I knew it would be mine because 1) it had a car on the front, and 2) that car was blue. My three-year-old son is currently obsessed with the Cars movie and he believes everything blue is his. So, I set this book on the dining room table and waited. It took approximately 2.5 minutes for him to notice this book, claim it for himself, and politely demand that I read it to him!
Why I Finished It: This book was certainly a hit with my car-loving kiddo! We read it twice in a row and again at bedtime that night (usually I have a 24 hour rule where I will only read a book once within a 24 hour period)! We both really loved the illustrations. The illustrator, Ovi Nedelcu, is a character designer for animation and has been involved in several popular animated films, so there is a fun, whimsical feel to this book. There were also some great car puns that made me smile while I was reading (like Little Car’s “brake dance” or Mom’s windshield wipers speeding up to catch her tears when Little Car drives away).
Little Car really wants to be a cowboy, but everyone in the big city tells him there is no way that will happen. However, he decides to head Out West to follow his dream. He meets Dusty, a cowboy on a ranch, who also tells him that cars can’t be cowboys because they can’t ride horses. However, Dusty decides to see what Little Car CAN do instead of focusing on what he can’t do. There were definitely some things that Little Car just couldn’t do, but there were some unique things that he was really good at on the ranch (I won’t spoil it for you, but I loved the author’s twist on the classic “little guy overcomes to achieve his dream” storyline!).
Who I Would Give It To: Cowboy Car would work well in a pre-school or lower elementary classroom, or just for fun at home with your car- or cowboy-loving toddlers and preschoolers!
The theme of identity is strong in this book. Little Car doesn’t feel like he fits in the big city. He knows what he wants to do and become. The first time through, I kept thinking how is this car actually going to become a cowboy?? Quickly, we learn that he can’t actually be a cowboy who rides horses, but he does have other strengths that help him find his place on the ranch.
Perseverance is another theme that could easily be explored with Cowboy Car. Little Car could have given up when he first realized he couldn’t ride a horse. But instead of moping around and going back to the city, he chose to try and see what he could do when Dusty gave him a chance on the ranch. Little Car approached every challenge with enthusiasm and kept trying, even when he wasn’t completely successful. Eventually, he became a cowboy, though not in the traditional sense or maybe exactly as he had envisioned.
Too often, students (and human beings in general) focus on what we can’t do instead of what we can! This book would be a great way to kick off the school year for your students, helping them explore two very important themes that go hand in hand. Have students make a list of their strengths, the things they are really good at, the skills and qualities that make them who they are that they can use to contribute to the classroom as a whole. This will probably take some prompting, so be prepared with your own examples! Throughout the year, students can refer to the list when they encounter challenges and difficulties, using it to figure out ways to persevere and accomplish their goals.
Little Car tries his hand at various jobs on the ranch. Each job is something important to life on the ranch out in the West. Talk to students about the purpose of these different jobs and why they were/are important. Also, compare life on a present-day ranch to life in a ranch in the Old West. What would be the same? What would be different?
The book begins with Little Car in the big city. Life in the big city is very different from life Out West. Help students think about those differences, concentrating on things like earning a living, shelter, clothing, food, and activities.
Text to Text Connections
There are many books that feature overcoming an obstacle, here are a few!
- The Little Engine That Could
- Flight School
- Just about any biography (we do a whole session with biographies – check our Workshops page!)
- The Marvelous Thing That Came from a Spring: The Accidental Invention of the Toy That Swept the Nation
Would you like a copy of this fun new book?? Of course you do! To enter in the drawing to be our lucky winner, just comment on this post with why you think your students might enjoy this book or what you would use it for in your classroom. We will randomly draw from all commenters on May 4, 2017 and the winner will be contacted via email so we can get your copy of Cowboy Car to you!