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Book Reviews

Car Smarts: The Book for Kids Who Love Cars

by Phil Edmonston and Maureen Sawa, Gordon Sauvé, illus.

It’s nice to report a new entry in the ranks of good car books, courtesy of one of the best-known automotive writers around. Phil Edmonston, author of more than 100 books about cars (notably the Lemon-Aid Car Guides series), has teamed up with Hamilton, Ontario, librarian and first-time author Maureen Sawa to write Car Smarts, a snappy look at every imaginable aspect of cars, brilliantly illustrated by veteran Gordon Sauvé.

Beginning with the basics of car history and mechanics, Edmonston and Sawa explore automotive design, followed by an examination of a topic near and dear to Edmonston’s heart: what makes a car a “lemon”? The authors then describe in depth what to look for when buying a new or used car, and what the future might hold for cars and drivers.

Particularly effective are the ways in which Edmonston and Sawa have used material supplementary to the main text to illustrate the points they are making, such as their “10 Rules for Buying Used” list and a sidebar called “The Land Where Cars Never Die!,” a look at car culture in Cuba. As well, the authors have captured just the right tone and writing style for young car buffs, with equal doses of specialized automotive terminology combined with easy-to-understand descriptions of complex points such as the workings of the rack-and-pinion steering system and an engine’s cooling system.

Certainly, the intended audience for Car Smarts is still a few years away from actually being able to own and drive their own four-wheeler. But with the head start they’ll get from Car Smarts, readers of this excellent new title will be well on their way to understanding just about every aspect of whatever make or model they end up driving.