Hallie Durand and Tony Fucile, who wrote and ilustrated Let's Do Nothing and brilliantly illustrated Bink & Gollie, have teamed up to bring us the exuberantly zippy new book, Mitchell's License.
The energy packed into Mitchell's License begins with the cover and doesn't slow down until Mitchell's head hits the pillow. As a special bedtime enticement (I think we all know a little bit about these...) Mitchell's dad has offered himself up as the remote-control vehicle that will ferry Mitchell to bed. Dad is pretty game and Mitchell is more than willing to play along as the two zoom through the house, dodging one traffic hazard after another.
While Durand's idea takes a common parental experience and turns it into a fun story, it is Fucile's illustrations and his animator's skill with character development that really revs the engine of this book. The exaggerated actions of Mitchell and his father had my son, who is a huge Tom & Jerry fan, laughing out loud while Mitchell's enthusiasm had me smiling.
Mitchell is a kid who knows how to get the most out of any experience, even trying to snag a sweet when he drives his Dad-car over to the cookie jar insisting that cookies are gas. Dad doesn't fall for it and reigns in the fun a bit as he heads to bed. Mitchell's room is a treat to see, with roads painted on the walls and printed on the sheets and toy cars everywhere, just what you'd expect and hope from parents who clearly value imagination. When Mitchell finally does drift off to sleep, his dreams are of driving as well. This time, he drives his own sporty red convertible and heads right to the gas station, which of course has a huge cookie jar on top!
One final thing that I want to call attention to in Mitchell's License, something I wish was so common that it didn't even merit a mention, is the multicultural family portrayed here. This is so rare in picture books that it does stand out and, in Mitchell's License it stands out even more so because this family is not the most often portrayed (when portrayed at all) African American and caucasian family. Bravo Tony Fucile, Hallie Durand and Candlewick Press for pushing the envelope!