Dixie loves his car and takes good care of it. He loves taking it for a spin with his friend Percy so naturally when the All Day Race is announced, they immediately decide to take part, hoping it is going to be a fun adventure. But not if Dixie’s scheming neighbour Lou-Ella has anything to do with it. She too loves cars, and is set on winning the race and will not let anything get in her way. It is up to Dixie and Percy, with a little help from some friends, to outdo mean Lou-Ella and try to save the day.
This collaboration is one that many a children’s literature enthusiast has been hoping for and awaiting with great trepidation for a long, long time. It does not disappoint, for Dixie O’Day in the Fast Lane is a gorgeous little book.
Visually, the book is stunning. The design of the book is also immaculate and so attractive. The limited palette of colours is a striking departure from Clara Vulliamy’s usual more flamboyant colour choices but it works famously, accentuating the overall retro and old-fashioned feel of the story. Her Dixie and Percy look kind and friendly, in a comforting kind of way, the kind of book character you really wish you could join in an adventure.
This feast of beautifully nostalgic merriment will definitely be a winner with adults, but Dixie O’Day in the Fast Lane is first and foremost a cleverly written chapter book for newly independent readers. It is obvious to readers that Shirley Hughes has had great fun writing this, as mischief reverberates throughout. The small format of the book, the short chapters where text and artwork playfully bounce off each other and the wonderful “extras” which include maps and quizzes, all work in unison to create a first chapter book which is particularly engaging and safe for readers first dipping their toes into fiction books. Yet it offers plenty of fun and adventures, from near misses to exciting encounters and a satisfyingly outrageous baddie who, eventually, gets her comeuppance. The two heroes are loveable yet not perfect (welcomingly so) and friendship and kindness take centre stage in the story. It is a real feel-good story which will give young readers a real sense of achievement.
Dixie O’Day in the Fast Lane is a little book to truly treasure, which has all the ingredients to become a firm favourite with little readers. A second instalment is on the way, hurray!
See also the website which includes some lovely activities.
All illustrations © Clara Vulliamy
Source: review copy from publisher