Red Wagon
The Red Wagon
Renata Liwska
ISBN 9780399252372
Philomel/Penguin , 2011.
5 stars
Keywords: family friendship humor imagination independence red-wagon renata-liwska

Red Wagon
by Renata Liwska

Children have a way of transforming everyday activities into high adventure. Lucy, a small red fox with a bow on her head, goes a step further. When Lucy asks her mother if she can play with her “brand-new little red wagon,” her mother answers, “Sure, you can use your wagon to go to the market.” That may not be the freewheeling kind of “play” Lucy had in mind, but she quickly turns a prospective chore into a wild ride. Soon her squirrel and porcupine friends hop into the wagon (“It was pretty heavy”), and they are on their way. The humor arises from the interplay between the words on the page and the story the pictures tell. When it starts to rain at the top of the hill, the narrative reads, “By the time she got to the bottom, it was really coming down!” The red wagon, meanwhile, transforms into a sailing vessel. Lucy and her crew attempt to rescue a raccoon with a hook on its left paw, floating in an umbrella with a skull-and-cross-bones flag affixed to the handle. Other transformations include a covered (red) wagon, and a market that resembles a cluster of circus tents. The artwork makes even the porcupine look huggable. Lucy and her pals will inspire your toddler to launch his or her own flight of fancy. 

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