4 out of 4 stars
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To Iowa in the Back Seat, written by Kristi R. Bradbury, is a children’s book about Kay, a young girl from Colorado. Kay and her two older siblings, a sister named Sue and a brother named Michael, go on a road trip to visit their grandparents in Iowa. The drive is long, and Kay and her siblings sometimes clash along the way. But when they arrive, their grandparents greet them with warmth and affection, and Kay finds herself having such a good time that she never wants to leave.
The story is based on the author’s own childhood experiences, with Kay and her siblings representing the author and her family. I loved the way Bradbury was able to draw upon those early experiences to provide realism and relatability to the long car trip and the small annoyances that feel very large to a child.
The book is written from Kay’s perspective, and she narrates her thoughts and experiences in enough detail that a young child would need an adult to read the book to them. Older children would be able to read the book themselves and would appreciate both the descriptiveness of the scenes and the approachable vocabulary. I would estimate the book to be appropriate for children as young as three to as old as eight or nine.
The book is illustrated with beautiful full-page drawings depicting Kay’s adventure. On almost every page, there is a tiny cricket hidden somewhere in the illustrations. As an adult, I enjoyed the challenge of trying to find the cricket, although spotting such a tiny insect buried in the colorful drawings would probably be much too hard for a young child to do without an adult’s help.
The only errors I could find in the book were a few instances of missing spaces between words. The font in which the text is written is small and the spacing between letters varies, so it is hard to tell if these are true errors or if they merely appear to be errors due to the letter spacing. Regardless, this spacing issue makes the font hard to read; in my opinion, the font should be replaced with a larger and more easily legible one, particularly if children are going to be expected to read this book themselves.
To Iowa in the Back Seat earns a score of 4 out of 4 for its cute and well-illustrated depiction of childhood familial frustrations and joys. My only complaint is that I feel that the text would benefit from a different font. The book would most appeal to children who are three to nine years of age, particularly children who have older siblings, and their parents.
To Iowa in the Back Seat
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