Joëlle Jolivet (illustrations) & Jean-Luc Fromental (text)
“Rapido dans la ville”,  translated by Antony Shugaar

(Abrams Books)

Rapido the little red delivery van which is busy driving across the city delivering its packages. From the harbour to the city centre, from the suburbs to the countryside, Rapido works through the list of deliveries that can be found at the beginning of the story.
At the end of the day, Rapido goes back to his hangar for a well-earned rest, recapping the exciting things he delivered during the day.

Rapido’s Next Stop consists of a succession of double-spreads, each portraying a different type of landscape, as Rapido goes on his round. Jolivet’s distinctive style will be much appreciated by young audiences, especially the urban landscapes, as they are utterly packed with things to spot and discover.  Each page includes a flap, which is actually one of the buildings and as the reader lifts it, he finds himself gazing at even more detail, this time of the inside of the building. Each flap also hides a riddle, with the last word being swapped by an illustration representing it. This object is in fact what Rapido is delivering and young readers can look back at the list at the front of the book to keep track of Rapido’s list of tasks for the day.

This is a wonderfully interactive book, and though the rhyming isn’t always sleek (possibly due to a loss in translation), this does not alter the overall quality of the book, because the real focus here is the artwork. Thanks to Jolivet’s fantastic lino cut illustrations, children will be totally engrossed in this book. Her style is bold and bright despite the predominance of black and the limited palette of colours, and the thick lines make it easy to imitate for children who like to draw too.

Rapido’s Next Stop also offers quite an interesting glimpse at French way of life. I can see so many things amongst the pages that remind me of my home town. From the architecture (especially housing) to the type of shops on finds on a typical high street, this is most definitely a great introduction to French town life in a fun and engaging way.

My only gripe with the book is that they have used the American spelling of theatre. I know that Abrams is an American publisher so it makes sense but this small detail will not escape eagle-eyed good spellers!

Rapido’s Next Stop will be a real hit for little readers who enjoy everything about cars and roads as well as those who love detailed landscape illustrations. It can be enjoyed on one’s own, poring over the illustrations, or together with an reader allowing for lots of discussion and games. Regardless of how you approach Rapido’s Next Stop, it will be a huge hit with its audience.

Source: review copy from publisher