Red Wagon by Renata Liwska
Lucy, a young fox, just got a brand-new red wagon and she's dying to play with it. Her mother tells her that she can take the wagon to the market to do some grocery shopping. Lucy is less than thrilled with the idea of running errands with the wagon instead of playing with it, but she goes anyway. She has treacherous trip to the market, with rain, crashes, spills, and repairs. And at the end of trip, she's exhausted and finally free to play with her wagon. Unfortunately, she's so tired she cuddles up with a book inside her wagon and falls asleep.
The magic of Red Wagon lies in the way Liwska's beautiful illustrations (she also illustrated the gorgeous The Quiet Book) complement and add to the story. While the text seems to tell a straight forward tale of Lucy's journey to the market and back, the illustrations show the imaginative world of Lucy and her friends. When the rain starts coming down hard, the illustrations show Lucy and her friends riding the wagon, which has turned into a boat, sailing over huge waves and encountering pirates. During the long walk to the market, we see the little red wagon turn into a gold rush covered wagon, a circus trailer, a train, and even a rocket ship. There is a great contrast between the simple text and the detailed illustrations that portrait Lucy's playful imagination. Red Wagon is beautiful and will appeal to young ones that delight in imaginative play.