Mitchell's License by H. Durand
Durand, Hallie. Mitchell's License. Illus. Tony Fucile. Somerville, Mass: Candlewick Press, 2011. Print.
Three and a half year old Mitchell, who never wants to go to bed, receives his “remote-controlled dad driver’s license”, which allows him to drive his father around the house like a car. This delightful picture book features plenty of visual sight gags as Mitchell puts the car into gear (by pulling on his father’s ears), checks the tires (feet), cleans the windshield (eyeglasses), and honks the horn (nose). Although Mitchell initially drives his dad straight into a wall, over time he learns how to avoid collisions and make hairpin turns. The book concludes with the son trying to feed his dad some gas (a cookie) before being driven off to bed.
This is the first picture book by author Durand (also known for the Just Desserts books), whose husband invented the “remote-controlled dad” game for their children. There isn’t much of a story, nor does there need to be; the pleasure in the book is the driving game and the interaction between Mitchell and his dad. Fucile, who is well known from his career in animation, is a perfect illustrator for bringing this high-speed adventure to life, especially the overtly slapstick scenes where Dad collides into the wall or has “oil” poured into his mouth. Many pages use a lot of white space, which when combined with Fucile’s graphic style; make the illustrations look as though they were taken directly from a sketchbook. This effect gives the whole book a feeling of fluidity and improvisation that complements the driving game being enacted, while never coming off as blatantly cartoony.
This book is highly recommended, especially for any child who loves cars and driving. However, parents should probably expect children to demand their own driver’s licenses after reading this book!
Highly recommended: 4 out of 4 stars
Reviewer: Dale Storie
Dale is Public Services Librarian at the John W. Scott Health Sciences Library at the University of Alberta. He has a BA in English, and has also worked in a public library as a children's programming coordinator, where he was involved with story times, puppet shows, and book talks.