Age Range: 5 to 8
Dixie O’Day In the Fast Lane is a perfect book for children who are moving from picture books to chapter books. The seven short chapters are designed to be read one a day but it is such an action packed story that we can’t resist reading it in one sitting. It’s a real page turner and the perfect size to fit in a Christmas stocking.
The Story: Dixie O’Day has a very old car, which his friend Percy helps him to polish, but his neighbour, Lou Ella, buys a new, expensive car every year. When a car race from Didsworth to Dodsworth is advertised Dixie and Lou Ella both enter. Lou Ella drives so fast that she stops for lunch en route but when she is rude to the diner owner his brother changes the direction of the Dodsworth signpost so that she drives the wrong way. For various reasons Dixie and Percy’s progress is slower but they eventually make it to Dodsworth with help from The Friendly Family and Auntie Dot. It is very close at the end but who wins the race? Dixie and Percy? Lou Ella? Or one of the other competitors?
Dixie O’Day and Percy are (doggy) country gentleman and the immaculately turned out Lou Ella reminds me of Penelope Pitstop (for those of you who remember The Wacky Races). Lou Ella is rude, selfish, self absorbed and materialistic in comparison to the kind, helpful Dixie who refuses to buy a new car (despite having mechanical problems with his). Kind Dixie is the only one who stops during the race to help The Friendly Family when their car breaks down and they in turn repay his kindness by showing him a shortcut. The story is fun to read with lots of action to keep you turning the pages. Sheep, shortcuts, railway crossings and tram tracks cause problems throughout the race but eventually there is a winner.
The text bounces along and is great to read out loud but it’s also an easily readable text for a child starting to read a first chapter book. Clara Vulliamy’s fabulous illustrations are mainly black, white and grey with reds and pinks. I love the mix of animal and human characters although my daughter thinks that Dixie must be a very big dog as he is as tall as the father from The Friendly Family! Taking the theme of a car race gives this book universal appeal and we love the extras at the beginning and end of the story. Dixie starts the book by giving a short interview and the other main characters are also introduced. There are maps showing the race route, quizzes, activities, photo albums and a preview of the next book – Dixie O’Day and the Great Diamond Robbery
We really enjoy reading this story. It’s a great book to bridge the gap between picture books and first chapter books. You can read more about Dixie on his website.
Quote from Jessica (age 5): ‘Dixie is a very big dog but his feet need to touch the pedals in the car.’
Author: Shirley Hughes / Illustrator: Clara Vulliamy