________________ CM . . . . Volume XIII Number 4 . . . . October 13, 2006


Sophie’s Wheels.

Debora Pearson. Illustrated by Nora Hilb.
Toronto, ON: Annick Press, 2006.
24 pp., pbk. & cl., $6.95 (pbk.), $18.95 (lib. bd.).
ISBN 1-55451-037-6 (pbk.), ISBN 1-55451-038-4 (lib. bd.).

Preschool-Kindergarten / Ages 3-5.

Review by Jeannette Timmerman.

*** /4


Squoosh! Scrunch!
Sophie's stuck
Sometimes wheels
Won't go in snow

Zippy sled
Slip-slides ahead


Debora Pearson is the former editor of Owl Magazine and the author of many children's books. Readers have met Sophie before as Leo's baby sister in Pearson's Leo's Tree. Sophie's Wheels tells the story of Sophie's childhood through the changing wheels that come into her life: baby buggy, stroller, wagon, toys with wheels that she pushes and pulls when she learns to walk, grocery cart, bicycle seat on the back of a two-wheeler, tricycle, and finally her own bicycle with training wheels. This is an unusual but enjoyable way to portray the growth of a child.

internal art

     Nora Hilb's bright watercolours are uncluttered but contain details that expand the text. The illustrations trace Sophie's growth from infant to toddler to a five-or six-year-old. Just watching the changes in Sophie's hair in the illustrations is delightful. Sophie's view of the world and her interactions with her surroundings change as the years pass. At first, her view is confined to what she can see from the carriage. Then it becomes people's legs and what is close to the ground when she is in a stroller. At the end, she is able to go alone on a short outing while her family watches. Hilb's paintings set Sophie's activities against the background of the changing seasons.

     The story is told in free verse, although at times there is the start of rhyming, but each time that aspect quickly disappears. An adult reader may find this jarring to the ear, although the effect is lessened with the slower reading pace needed for preschoolers. Sound effect words such as "boing-ity," "scrunch," and "tring" give the story punch.    

     The text has 135 words. There are no periods. However, other punctuation, such as commas, a question mark, apostrophes, hyphens, and exclamation points, are used. There are a dozen of the latter which diminishes their effectiveness.

     Children from ages 3 to 6 should enjoy listening to Sophie's Wheels, looking at the pictures, and discussing the art and text. Although the story is focused on Sophie, her brother and the family dog appear on many of the pages.


Jeannette Timmerman is a former teacher and principal with the Winnipeg (MB) School Division.


To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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