I'm really not a fan of automobiles, but for some reason, most likely an early introduction to Richard Scarry's classic Cars and Trucks and Things That Go, I am drawn picture books that feature vehicles, especially when the illustrations get a little silly the way Richard Scarry's always did. I was thrilled to discover William Bee and his book and the cars go . . . last year, adding it to my short list of favorites that also includes the fantastic lift-the-flap book Under the Hood by Christophe Merlin. Add to this list the almost wordless picture book Bang! by Belgian author Leo Timmers. All images are from Leo Timmers's website, thus the "Boem," which I think is Dutch, instead of the "Bang."
Like Bee's book, the premise of Bang! is simple and completely engaging, especially when you combine it with Timmers's detailed, brightly colored, humorous illustrations. Rather than a traffic jam caused by a mysterious something that we have to turn the pages to get to, Timmers's begins with bang, literally. First up is a deer driving a car filled with books, all titled, "Bang!", Reading and driving lead to a crash with a garbage can. Happily, all the books land in a tidy stack inside the garbage can, but a chain reaction ensues.
Timmers's use of color in Bang! is a visual treat. The animals are all colorfully matched with their cars or trucks and, in many cases, their cargo. As each consecutive car is rear-ended, the cargo goes flying and the following page, as seen above, is a "Bang" with a color background that matches the driver and car. After each bang-up, cargo goes flying, adding to the chaos and slap-stick humor. As in Bee's and the cars go . . ., keep your eye on the avian creatures over the course of the story, this time chickens rather than seagulls.
Fish, veggies, little bunnies, paint and more all go flying in fantastic ways, leading up to a magnificent four-page fold-out spread where the final vehicle in the pile-up, an ice cream truck, makes for a sweet and mostly happy ending. Timmers's cartoonish illustration style pairs wonderfully with his painterly skills and brilliant attention to detail. Bang! is a book that, like Cars and Trucks and Things That Go, and the cars go . . ., and Under the Hood, readers - young and old - will pore over, again and again. I can't wait to read more of Timmers's books!
Source: Read in a bookstore, wish I had bought it...
While a handful of Leo Timmers's books have not been published in English, you can buy many of them online from Powell's Books!
And, in board book format be sure not to miss these titles:
Other cars & trucks picture books worth buying: