What a wonderful idea: Use the muttered monologue of a small child playing by himself as the narrative of a picture book. Anyone who has ever eavesdropped on a child in solitary play will recognize the fluid, expansive, and inventive style of Luigi’s stream of consciousness: ”Hello, Oliver Fenderbender. You’re a regular customer. Don’t bang into the bus. There’s a spot. No? Well, drive around?”
Luigi is the sovereign of his domain, vrooming his toy cars around, creating excitements, and playing the kindly parent or stern authoritarian. He makes the sound effects for every incident, offers grapes to his customers, and even welcomes a helicopter to his all-night lot. Meanwhile, the pictures show a rainbow of chunky, cartoon-style vehicles zipping around under a shiny night sky, with Luigi’s narrative framed in a yellow box.
Suddenly, an adult voice intervenes. ”Luigi! Time to clean up. It’s getting late.” The illustrator pulls back his ”camera” and we see the toys in their proper perspective, on Luigi’s table, as Luigi waits for Papa to tuck him in.
Young readers will be tickled by the appealing energy of the pictures in Joshua Schreier’s Luigi’s All-Night Parking Lot, and equally delighted by the empathetic rendering of their own form of imaginative play. A