Richard Scarry's Cars and Trucks and Things That Go

Book review by
Carrie R. Wheadon, Common Sense Media
Richard Scarry's Cars and Trucks and Things That Go Book Poster Image
Excellent vocab builder is also big wacky fun.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

A great vocab builder that will get kids talking and pointing at real vehicles and made-up ones like carrot and alligator cars. Kids can also look for a small gold bug (appropriately named Goldbug) hidden on every page. They will also learn a bit about what construction and farm vehicles do, what happens when a bag of nails spills on a roadway, why snow chains can be helpful, and what kinds of emergencies ambulances and fire trucks respond to.

Positive Messages

Like any good road trip, curiosity and a sense of adventure are encouraged. On this particular road trip, so is a willingness to roll with the punches: fix a flat tire, skirt around construction, and avoid runaway watermelons and large-scale traffic accidents with explosions of mustard and whipped cream.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The pig family works together to make it to the beach and home again. After Pa fixes the flat tire, Ma drives. Also, Dingo the bad driver is chased through the whole book and finally given a ticket.

Violence & Scariness

One spread has a large-scale accident with flying whipped cream, mustard, bananas, and more; an ambulance arrives and administers one Band-Aid. A pie truck skids off an icy road. One page features tanks and other military vehicles. A runaway steamroller squashes the front of some cars. Firefighters put out a fire in a tiny, tiny bug's car.


What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this is THE book to get kids who love vehicles and are just starting to string together words and simple sentences. With lots to see and talk about on every page, it'll really get their motors running. Of course with any book filled with moving machines there are a few accidents, but it's all kept light with exploding mustard and flying bananas. In the back of a vehicle dubbed the "bigshot car," a pig smokes a cigar.

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What's the story?

The pig family drives their car from home to the beach for a picnic and home again. Along the way they encounter almost every imaginable vehicle on the road, rail, and waterways, and some only Richard Scarry has imagined -- such as a giant pickle truck, a hammer car, and a wolf wagon. Meanwhile Officer Flossy is in hot pursuit of Dingo the dog who knocked over a whole row of parking meters in his flashy red car and is trying to escape a ticket. \"Go get him, Officer Flossy!\"

Is it any good?

Long story short, this is a book that really grows with kids and gets them pointing, talking, laughing, and learning; what a wonderful investment.

Parents can approach this book in many stages. Toddlers, with their shorter attention spans, get the "point and laugh" method, attention given to silliness like the pickle truck and a cheese car filled with mice. Months later, a bit of the storyline can be added. Kids can track the pig family car, and parents can try to get through some of the text. Or just follow Officer Flossy as she chases Dingo -- another exciting option. When parents get through the whole story for the first time it's a real accomplishment.

Then it's time to find Goldbug on every page. That could involve a whole week of intense study and lots of shouting "there's Goldbug!" Then you can return to the story and enjoy it all over again.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about things that go -- while reading this book and while on the go. What's that car for? What does an ambulance do?

  • Where's Goldbug? You can look for the little gold bug on every page.

  • Why is Officer Flossy chasing Dingo? The book asks the question at the end and so can you: "When will he ever learn to drive properly?"

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love picture books and vehicles

Themes & Topics

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