by Stephen T. Johnson. I bought this book for 4 year old Buddy Boy after reading this review on Fuse #8 Production. He absolutely loves it. It is a rather large book of heavy cardboard and he carries it around the house. He has never ridden in a taxi and didn’t know what one was until last August when his big brother went off to college and reported to us on the phone that he had taken a taxi from the airport to his college campus. He sees them occasionally now and always exclaims “There’s Buster’s taxi!” We have been reading Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus a lot lately too so the idea of gaining permission to drive an impressive machine has taken root. (Not sure I like those Pigeon books myself, but Buddy sure does).
My Little Yellow Taxi is an interactive book filled with cut outs that one can remove and pretend to use as tools. You can put gas in the tank, look under the hood to check the oil, use the tire gauge to check the pressure, open the driver’s door, put the key in the ignition, adjust the rear view mirror, put things in the glove box, raise the fair flag and turn on the headlights and wipers. All these things are made out of heavy cardboard. They move with a series of tabs and folds and inserts. It is a fabulous toy for a child who loves vehicles, but I find myself wishing it were made out of something sturdier than cardboard. I bent the oil gauge tab the first time we read it and it won’t fit back in the slot now. The ignition key is made of several layers of cardboard glued together and they separated so the key no longer fits its slot. Then again, that problem was quickly bypassed by the potential for parts to go missing. Buddy learned the hard way that one does not throw the car keys during a temper tantrum when one’s mother says it’s time to park the taxi and go to bed. Sooner or later I guess we are bound to find that key again.
The other weakness in the book in my opinion is the text. There isn’t much of a story here. Perhaps a child driver only wants to be handed the book and let to explore driving without the need of adult interpretation. I would have liked to see something a little more imaginative in the writing. Perhaps a story about a taxi driver preparing to drive and then picking up passengers or having a flat or something. Because the text as it is written is pretty boring, just listing the tools and the tasks involved in getting ready to drive, we tend not to read it. We make up our own stories. In the first story one of us is the taxi driver taking the other one to the airport to go to college. In the other story one of us begs to be allowed to drive the taxi and the taxi driver at first refuses and then relents and lets the pigeon –I mean the child drive. The child goes too fast and ignores traffic rules. There is a terrible crash. The ambulance comes, the police come and arrest someone, someone goes to jail, the child comes and bails her out, they drive off in the taxi. Or maybe it’s not quite like that, I am probably mixing things up. In any case Buddy is having a ball driving his taxi.