________________ CM . . . . Volume XXIII Number 33 . . . . May 5, 2017


Eighteen Wheels and a Dozen Roses.

Caroline Stellings.
Winnipeg, MB: Peanut Butter Press, 2017.
32 pp., hardcover, $19.95.
ISBN 978-1-927735-14-5.

Preschool-grade 1 / Ages 3-6.

Review by Vasso Tassiopoulos.

*½ /4



The only thing Matt wanted was a truck – a big one with eighteen wheels. But he didn't have any money. He worked at Ben's garage and slept in the backroom. He had a bed, a table, a chair, and a hot plate.

      Eighteen Wheels and a Dozen Roses is a picture book which follows the story of two dogs, Matt and Ben, who rebuild cars and generously give them away. The story, written and illustrated by Caroline Stellings, has the potential to be endearing but falls flat in many instances. The cover of the picture book is unappealing and appears dated. It also unintentionally reflects the confused and meandering tone of the story. The cover has an unappealing burgundy border around an illustration of a large red truck with two black dogs behind its wheel. In the bottom right corner, there is a secondary, smaller, circular illustration of two yellow dogs driving a green car. As a reader, viewing two separate illustrations on the cover appears indecisive on the publisher's part.

      The story often features unpoetic and repetitive prose. Lists of car parts are unnecessarily listed throughout three repetitive passages in the story as Matt and Ben build three new cars out of old broken cars. Matt and Ben tirelessly work on each car for an entire season and then instantly and unwaveringly give their vehicle away to the first anthropomorphised animal who happens to pass by their shop in need of a ride. The creatures' problems could likely be solved through means other than being given a car, which is also why the story's simplistic theme of generosity comes across as ineffective for readers. The story's blatant message of generosity is resounding until the end where they give away the third vehicle they have tirelessly worked on to a dog named Tom.

      The story's conclusion is also perplexing as Matt and Ben find out that Tom, to whom they give their green truck, happens to be the president of a truck company. He, in turn, gives them a red truck for their generosity. Logically, he would not need to be given a truck by Matt and Ben. Further inconsistencies include illustrations throughout the story that appear as muddled and untidy sketches. The story may interest very young readers who like the nonsensical combination of dogs and cars. Adult readers will likely find the story odd and unmemorable. Overall, Eighteen Wheels and a Dozen Roses comes across as a rough draft of a picture book. If revised and reworked, it has the potential to be a more engaging story.

Not Recommended.

Vasso Tassiopoulos is a graduate of the Master of Arts program in Children's Literature at the University of British Columbia.

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

Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.
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The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364
Hosted by the University of Manitoba.

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