About the Holiday
We love our cars! Sometimes it seems we spend more time with them than with our own family – and maybe some of us do! What do you call such a reliable partner? A friend, of course! Our friends have names, so why shouldn’t our cars? That’s the idea behind today’s whimsical holiday. To celebrate, give your car the perfect moniker. All names are open, well…
Thanks to Blue Slip Media and Aladdin for sending me a copy of All Except Axle for review consideration. All opinions about the book are my own. I’m revved up to be offering a giveaway of the book as well! See details below.
All Except Axle
Written by Sue Lowell Gallion | Illustrated by Lisa Manuzak Wiley
At the car assembly plant, all the new cars were happily getting buffed before they rolled off the conveyor belt and raced into their slot on the lot. That is… “all except one. Axle.” From the parking lot, the cars drove up the ramps and onto the big transport trucks for the next part of their adventure. But one car lagged behind, watching from a distance – Axle.
The transport trucks vroomed onto the highway, but…. They were one short. “Earlene, and her passengers…were waiting for Axle.” Axle idled nearby. “‘I think I’m out of alignment,'” he told Earlene. “‘I think you’re stalling,'” Earlene said. The other cars were encouraging, but Earlene got Axle moving with a loud HONNKK!
Finally zooming down the highway, the other cars loved feeling the wind and “[leaning] into the twists and turns.” But Axle felt carsick. When the reached the dealership, the other cars eagerly explored the lot and showroom. All except Axle, who “hurried back up Earlene’s ramp and pleaded with her to go back to the plant.
With a Vroom they were off – but not to the plant. Soon, Earlene veered into a truck stop, where, she said, Axle could practice. Axle made right turns, left turns, and U-turns around the cement columns and followed Earlene around and around the lot. Then they left the truck stop and headed out to the flatlands, the foothills, where “the slope grew steeper and steeper,” and even into the mountains. From high on the top of a mountain, Axle stopped to enjoy the view.
Earlene was zipping back down the curvy mountain road with Axle far behind. Then Axle smelled something burning and watches as Earlene “rockets up a runaway truck ramp.” When Earlene finally stopped, they saw the flat tire. Earlene needed a tow truck and Axle was her only hope. He turned around and climbed the mountain road again. It was a strain on his engine, but when he reached the top, Axle kept on going all the way back to the truck stop.
There he found a tow truck and led it straight back to Earlene. “‘Nice job, kid,’ the tow truck said” then offered Axle a ride back into town. But Axle replied, “‘No thanks, I can drive!'” and he zoomed ahead to lead Earlene and the tow truck back to the city.
Car, truck, and vehicle fans will love Sue Lowell Gallion’s story that boosts little ones’ self-confidence with reassurance and a sweet hero who just needs a little more practice to discover the courage under his hood. With plenty of puns to tickle readers, Gallion’s story reflects the feelings of kids hesitant to make changes or leave their comfort zone. Axle’s reactions mirror many behaviors anxious or hesitant children display, allowing adults and kids an opportunity to talk about emotions. Her well-paced story also lets readers to ride along with Axle as he tries out and improves his skills. When Earlene needs help, Axle may feel a moment of nervousness, but with his new-found belief in himself, he takes to those once-scary roads and saves the day.
Lisa Manuzak Wiley’s bold and vibrant illustrations will appeal to kids – and especially vehicle-lovers – with detailed images of cars on a factory line, loaded into transport trucks, and heading out on the open road. Her vehicles are both realistic and whimsical, and their expressive headlight eyes clearly reflect Axle’s trepidation and the other cars’ excitement for their adventure. Children will enjoy pointing out and counting the different cars from page to page.
For children who need a little encouragement on the road of life, All Except Axle is an engaging and reassuring story that’s sure to capture their imagination.
Ages 4 – 8
Aladdin, 2020 | ISBN 978-1534440227
Discover more about Sue Lowell Gallion and her books on her website.
You can find an All about Axle Storytime Kit with a puzzle, puppets, a coloring page, discussion questions, and a coping strategies worksheet on Sue’s website here.
To learn more about Lisa Manuzak Wiley, her books, and her art, visit her website.
Name Your Car Day Activity
Racing for Friendship Game
Here’s a racing game that kids will love! With poster board, paper, and chalk or other art supplies, kids can place their track in a city, the country, the desert, or even in outer space! Once the scene is ready, get out your own toy cars or trucks to play with or use the printable truck game pieces included below. Use a traditional playing die or the included printable 8-sided playing die. The first player to the finish line wins—or shake it up a bit and make the last person to the line the winner.
The track can be laid out on the floor and taped in place or created on poster board or paper with the supplies below:
- Poster board or tri-fold display board. I used a 12-inch by 4-foot section of a tri-fold board in my example. This allows you to fold up the board for easier storing.
- White paper
- Chalk, crayons, or colored pencils
- Glue or tape
- Toy trucks or cars
- Printable Truck Game Pieces (optional)
- Printable 8-sided Playing Die
- Cut 30 4- or 5-inch by 1½-inch strips from the white paper
- Have kids lay out a track on the board using the white paper strips (each strip is one space) leaving room in between the rows for scenery
- Glue or tape the strips in place
- Draw scenery around the track OR cut trees, buildings, landmarks, or other scenery from paper and color. Glue or tape to board.
- Print and assemble 8-sided playing die with tape (optional)
- Give each player a toy truck or car. Alternately, print and cut out included Truck Game Pieces. (To make them sturdier, print on heavy paper or glue them to cardboard)
- Choose a player to go first
- Players take turns rolling the die and moving the appropriate number of spaces
- The first (or last) player to the finish line is the winner
You can find All Except Axle at these booksellers
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million
To support your local independent bookstore, order from
Picture Book Review