February 18, 2017

Eighteen Wheels and a Dozen Roses

Written by Caroline Stellings
Peanut Butter Press
32 pp.
Ages 5-8

It may be about trucks and cars and mechanics, but Eighteen Wheels and a Dozen Roses is truly a love story. And Caroline Stellings slips in that bit of romance so subtly that, except for the inevitable "Aw" at the end, young readers will still think it's a story about mechanics fixing up vehicles.

From Eighteen Wheels and a Dozen Roses 
by Caroline Stellings
Matt works at Ben’s garage and his only dream is to own an eighteen wheeler.  But, from his meagre room at the back of the garage, it’s evident that Matt does not have the money for such a purchase. But Ben has an idea of fixing up an old car.  He finds a wreck missing most of its parts but it is free. So the two work all spring until it is drivable.  But when his cat friend Harry is desperate for transportation, Matt gives away the newly refurbished yellow car.

Next Ben finds an old clunker of a station wagon that the two repair, only to have Matt give it to Mrs. Potter, the rabbit, who is struggling to take her ten children to school in the pouring rain.

From Eighteen Wheels and a Dozen Roses 
by Caroline Stellings

Their next project is an old pick up truck that takes them all autumn to fix. When a customer at the hardware store  overhears Matt talking about his truck, identical to one in  a calendar posted at the store, you know it’s going to change hands again.  Showing Matt an old photo of his wife on their wedding day beside such a truck, Tom had been searching everywhere for one just like it.  So on Christmas Eve, with a dozen roses, Tom picks up the Neptune Green truck to surprise his wife.  But, in a twist of fate, the surprise don’t end there and Matt’s dream comes true after all.

In a true tale of kindness and kismet, Caroline Stellings portrays a generosity rarely experienced in our world today, and demonstrates that “what goes around, comes around” in a charming plot of dogs, a cat, rabbits and cars and trucks.  It’s a story about an ordinary Joe (or rather Matt) who just keeps plugging along at life, dreaming of an eighteen wheeler and working just to survive.  But his heart is bigger than his dream and, though no one takes advantage of him, Matt gives away far more he gets. Or so it seems.  In that turn of destiny or fate or karma, Matt gets what he wants without having to compromise himself or his work ethic, still able to help many along the way.  With an understated story of kindness repaid, Caroline Stellings’s watercolour and pen and ink illustrations convey that softness and subtlety.  (By the way, if you’re a dog lover, Matt and Ben are based on the author’s own Schipperkes, Matt and Ben, to whom she dedicates the book, along with her mother “who treasured them.”) 

In Eighteen Wheels and a Dozen Roses, Caroline Stellings gives an alternative explanation for the country song of the same name.  I think I prefer this one, as it carries a profound sentiment about good works and karma and important lessons worthy of sharing with young readers.

From Eighteen Wheels and a Dozen Roses 
by Caroline Stellings

1 comment:

  1. I love the idea of this book. Thanks for reviewing it.