Book Review: ‘Car Record Breakers: Fastest! Biggest! Most Extravagant!’ by Paul Virr
We live in a world where bigger, better, faster, and stronger is the drive behind all innovation (isn’t that right, Daft Punk?). That philosophy definitely applies to the automotive industry, which has seen its share of revolutionary achievements over the last century. Human ambition turns these transportation machines into record-breaking vehicles as we continually innovate wheeled travel.
The most impressive and fascinating records-breaking vehicles are spotlighted in Car Record Breakers, a book from Carlton Kids. It’s filled with fast facts and exciting entries on revolutionary automobiles.
Car Record Breakers: Fastest! Biggest! Most Extravagent!
By Paul Virr
Product Details: Paperback, 112 pages, 11.2 x 8.4 inches
Price: $14.95 / £9.99
Ages: 8 and up
Publication Date: July 2016
Publisher: Carlton Kids, an imprint of Carlton Books
Learning Can Be Fun! Your kids will love reading this picture book about the parts of a car
This fascinating, flashy fact book includes profiles on over 50 different automobile-related records. Types of records include:
- Firsts (e.g. first car on the moon, first diesel road car, first folding city car)
- Speed (e.g. fastest electric production car, fastest steam-powered car, fastest solar-powered car)
- Size (e.g. tallest production car, smallest micro car, longest limousine)
- Popularity (e.g. best-selling sports car, most popular car)
- Motorsport Wins (e.g. longest Grand Prix winning streak, champion off-road rally racer)
- Other (e.g. safest car, most expensive car)
The beginning of the book includes a contents page listing each record, which is helpful since the records don’t seem to be organized in any meaningful order. There’s even a glossary in the back defining common industry terms contained in the book that are good for everyone to know. Note: because Carlton Books is a UK publisher, certain words and measurements will be different to US readers—kerb, km/hr, tyres, etc.
Car Record Breakers is written by Paul Virr, who has authored numerous other children’s books on different topics. This is part of a series of books from Carlton Kids that includes other record-breaking subjects like animals, dinosaurs, football (soccer), and space.
Car Record Breakers is a softback publication the size of a magazine, but with more pages and a thicker cover. The cover–as are the rest of the pages inside–is frantic, vivid, and bold, covered in sparks, motion blurs, tread tracks, 3D fonts, and car photos. It’s sure to grab anyone’s attention, especially young readers.
Inside, each record receives a two-page spread with a large image of the winning car, labeled by large black text and accompanied by side panels of trivia and stats. The bold category and winner titles make the book easy to flip through. All the text, in fact, is actually big, making it easy for young ones to read.
Binding is a bit loose and will probably need to be re-glued if frequently used by violent kids, but otherwise it’s a quality product.
Also from Carlton Books: Get a glimpse at the 2016 Formula One season with this insider’s guide
This is the type of book that would be constantly being checked out by students at my old elementary school library. Kids love “extreme” things, and this book totally feeds into that appeal by providing something “cool” and informative (not just gross-out or bizarre records). The colorful backgrounds, oversize text, short snippets of facts, and detailed images will keep young readers engaged–though the page designs might be visually overwhelming for older readers.
The vast majority of the cars contained in Car Record Breakers aren’t flash-in-the-pan records that will be quickly broken a year or two after publication. Though this type of book tends to go out of date quickly, Car Record Breakers contains plenty of historic, industry, and trivia information that will give it more longevity than other records books.
A wide variety of automakers from around the globe are represented, so there isn’t just a focus on supercar manufacturers kids have never heard of. You’ll see models from Audi, Mercedes, Tesla, Koenigsegg, Bugatti, Renault, Oldsmobile, and more. Pages include looks at runners-up and top fives to learn more about the segment than just a single model. Each page is filled with fact panels, sidebar trivia, and arrows pointing out notable information on each vehicle. A general stats profile on each car includes production years, dimensions, weight, and engine specs.
There is a lack of a comma usage after introductory phrases in the text, so some sentences take a couple reads to understand. Improved punctuation would’ve clarified meaning. Also, sometimes the car images blend into the background (red on red), and could’ve benefited from a contrasting background.
Although the publisher does recommend the book young readers between 8 and 12 years old (grades 3 to 7), the book is filled with plenty of trivia, stats, and insight that gearheads of any age will enjoy it.
Car Record Breakers is available through the publisher’s website, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Books-A-Million, and other retailers.
Product provided for review by publisher.
- Aaron WidmarSenior Editor
Aaron is unashamed to be a native Clevelander and the proud driver of a 1995 Saturn SC-2 (knock on wood). He gleefully utilizes his background in theater, literature, and communication to dramatically recite his own articles to nearby youth. Mr. Widmar happily resides in Dayton, Ohio with his magnificent wife, Vicki, but is often on the road with her exploring new destinations. Aaron has high aspirations for his writing career but often gets distracted pondering the profound nature of the human condition and forgets what he was writing... See more articles by Aaron.