I’ve got two kids – a nine-year-old daughter and a four-year-old son – so I’ve read a lot of children’s literature over the last decade. A lot. Most of it is dull-witted, repetitive crap designed specifically to insult a child’s natural intelligence. The Little Red Racing Car is not that kind of book. Instead, it is a wonderfully written and illustrated book you’ll enjoy reading to your kids or your nieces and nephews, just as much as they enjoy hearing it.
Its story is cut from the same cloth as the books I loved when I was a kid. Like Virginia Lee Burton’s Katy and the Big Snow or Mike Mulligan and his Steam Shovel, the story centers around a machine. In this case, it’s a Maserati 300S, left for dead after a successful racing career with Sir Stirling Moss behind the wheel.
A young boy finds the car stashed in a barn on a piece of property that he and his parents move into. Once the car is found, he and his father work to get the Maserati back to running condition.
The illustrations are just as strong as the story, perfect in every detail, with a vintage vibe that comes through in every pen stroke.
The book is written by Dwight Knowlton, a father and car enthusiast who went looking for a book that would inspire his young son’s passion for cars. “Not only did I not find the perfect book, I couldn’t find ANYTHING,” Knowlton writes, “So I decided to create one.”
Perhaps the most revealing piece of the book is the fact that Sir Stirling Moss himself allowed Knowlton to use his name in the book. “Early in the project,” Knowlton writes, “I wrote Sir Stirling a letter and told him of my respect for him. I shared my plans to feature the Maserati 300S in The Little Red Racing Car, and that I would very much like to pay homage to him – even though I knew that the use of his name was highly unlikely. To my amazement, I received a personal letter in reply, kindly, even enthusiastically, offering me the use of his name in the story ‘in whatever way I chose’.”
I got the book for my four-year-old son, Harry, through Knowlton’s Kickstarter project, which allowed him to publish the book exactly as he’d written it, in incredibly high quality.
Along with the book, Harry loved the racing license that came along with it, and the hand-drawn note that came as part of the Kickstarter deal.
If you’ve got kids in your life that enjoy amazingly well-illustrated stories about cars that don’t insult their intelligence, this book should be on your Christmas, Hannukah, Kwanzaa or winter solstice list this year.
It’s Harry Approved.
Buy The Little Red Racing Car directly through the book’s website. There’s a digital edition, a hardcover, and a whole lot of other stuff you’ll want there, too.