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Ladies and Gentlemen, start your engines!

Vrrrroooommm vrrrrrooooooooomm!!

(Click to enlarge all spreads.)


It's time for the coolest race ever, brought to you by Kristy Dempsey and Bridget Strevens-Marzo. Their brand new picture book, Mini Racer, is officially out today!

Get ready for a rip-roarin', rollicking ride -- up and down, over and around, right straight through and out the other side. No ordinary racers here, but twelve speed-lovin' animals burning rubber with their customized, all terrain, incredible (sometimes edible) vehicles.

Ready, steady; green light. GO!
Mini Racer won't go slow.

Out the gate and down the hill,
jump a speed bump, show your skill!

Kristy's lively rhyming couplets steadily ramp up the excitement and suspense from start line to satisfying finish. Readers will easily get caught up in the thrill-a-minute fun, wanting to "push the pace," veer, careen, "build up speed," swerve, slide and ZOOM! SCREECH!

Bridget's lively, winsome menagerie with their coordinating vehicles -- everything from a giraffe in a Jeep, to a cheese-riding mouse, chimp on a banana, rabbits in a carrot, and a team of owls in a hollowed-out log -- makes this particular race twelve times more engaging. Little ones will love rooting for their particular favorites as they bump and speed along the twisty, curvy course through town and countryside.

Of course I'm partial to the racers with edible vehicles, especially the mouse, who decides to eat part of his Swiss cheese car at a pit stop (I love resourceful rodents) and the bear who's toting his personal beehive (sweet fuel). The level of detail will keep young eyes poring over the illustrations for hours, as they look for red, yellow and green flags, and keep a special eye on the one and only mini racer, a snail on a skateboard (he starts out at the back of the pack, but keeps up a steady pace throughout). Will he win the race? Or will it be those dastardly handsome dalmations? Or the gators in the stretch limo? "Beep, beep, beep!"

alphabet soup kitchen helpers construct their own edible vehicles.

Cornelius oversees construction of a cookie car.

So far, Mini Racer has earned a *starred review* from School Library Journal, and a glowing review from Kirkus, who liked how the creatures' emotions (frustration, panic, disappointment) came across clearly: "full of zooming action and fender-bender drama, it has definite appeal for youngsters." A perfect read-aloud, Mini Racer is sure to be a runaway hit with both kids and short adults, who will never look at a piece of cheese the same way again.

Now, are you ready to wave your checkered flags for Kristy and Bridget? The alphabet soup kitchen helpers have created a mini racecourse around the rim of today's soup bowl. You are encouraged to zoom around a few times before filling up your tank. Dip your spoons deeply and slurp loudly at least twelve times before joining the Pit Stop Party!

Today's Special: Speedy Soup (a custom high-octane blend guaranteed to keep your motor hummin').

Besides soup, we're serving up a few extra treats in honor of some of the animal racers. Pepperoni pizza for the gators:

The Med Boulder/flickr

A cheese platter for that hungry Mouse:


Honeybee cupcakes for the bear:


Carrot cake and carrot cookies for the bunnies:


C bonbon cookie/flickr

and of course we must honor that adorable snail:



After you're all fueled up, race down to your local indie or click through to your fave online bookseller to score your very own copy of Mini Racer. If you go to a bricks and mortar store, dress up as your favorite animal character (cat, rabbit, dog, giraffe, chimp, owl, mouse, snail) and take a few laps around the tables and shelves before approaching the register. Bring a carrot or banana for the cashier to earn a special discount, and don't forget to say the secret word: SPEED. With your new book in hand, you're the ultimate winner!

Thanks for creating a great book, Kristy and Bridget. Full speed ahead!

by Kristy Dempsey
illustrated by Bridget Strevens-Marzo
published by Bloomsbury USA Children's Books, February 2011
Full color picture book for ages 4-8, 32 pp.
Cool themes: animals, humor, persistence, competition, racing, vehicles

♥ Here's the official book trailer:

♥ Kristy Dempsey's website and LJ blog, Reverie -- Abstract Musings on a Hopeful Life.

♥ Bridget Strevens-Marzo's
website and blog.

♥ Recent interview with Kristy at
Write Wild.

♥ Read about Kristy's inspiration for Mini Racer and enter to win a copy at Thing 1 and Thing 2!

To be honest, I'm still craving a little cheese:

Uh-oh. Looks like somebody beat me to it:

Little Ted gets the red flag for copying the Mouse and eating his car.

*Spreads posted by permission, text copyright © 2011 Kristy Dempsey, illustrations © 2011 Bridget Strevens-Marzo, published by Bloomsbury USA Children's Books. All rights reserved.

Copyright © 2011 Jama Rattigan of jama rattigan's alphabet soup. All rights reserved.


( 22 comments — Leave a comment )
Feb. 15th, 2011 02:10 pm (UTC)
Cuteness!!!! Congratulations, Kristy! And Jama, your book launch posts are ALWAYS the greatest!!
Feb. 15th, 2011 03:50 pm (UTC)
It really is a cute book. Love all the different cars that go with each animal. And how much do I love being able to eat your car? :D
Feb. 15th, 2011 02:47 pm (UTC)
tanita says:
This is adorable -- and I'm torn between the cookie car or the cheesy vehicle... possibly the cheese is better aerodynamically? But more likely to be devoured...
Feb. 15th, 2011 03:52 pm (UTC)
Re: tanita says:
I think the cheese is worse aerodynamically because of its weight. But maybe with Swiss cheese the holes would make a difference . . . :)
Feb. 15th, 2011 08:43 pm (UTC)
I am overcome with joy at these cars. I want to make some now!
Feb. 15th, 2011 09:59 pm (UTC)
Make some or eat some :)?
Feb. 19th, 2011 04:40 pm (UTC)
Jama, you did it again! So awesome.

Hopefully, I won't get in some "fender bender drama" of my own as I take off in pursuit of a copy of MINI RACER.
Feb. 15th, 2011 09:08 pm (UTC)
What a race! The illustrations show movement in every line! This book is going to my great-nephew who loves race cars!

I love the car Cornelius and Co. are building. Love the bumblebee bunny!
Feb. 15th, 2011 09:18 pm (UTC)
Very creative!!! (I love the food art)
Feb. 15th, 2011 10:05 pm (UTC)
Thanks, Angela! You may eat any of the cars in this post if you like :). . .
Feb. 15th, 2011 10:04 pm (UTC)
Yes, aren't the illustrations just fabulous? It's cool how Bridget created twelve little side stories as well as a "root for the underdog" subtext. The level of detail reminds me of Richard Scarry.
Feb. 15th, 2011 09:26 pm (UTC)
I have Mini Racer on order and have been anxiously awaiting its arrival. It looks like one I'm not going to be able to keep on the shelf.

You really outdid yourself with the pictures on this one, Jama. Five stars for you!
Feb. 15th, 2011 10:05 pm (UTC)
Thanks, Adrienne! Five cookie cars for you!
Feb. 15th, 2011 10:07 pm (UTC)
Jama - you are an inspiration for this whole new edible angle on my illustrations! Thanks for the best book launch I've ever had. i've linked my latest blog post (bridgimage.blogspot.com) to enthuse about yours. How I'd love to have a real Mini Racer party with you, Kristy, Teds and all!
Feb. 16th, 2011 02:32 pm (UTC)
You're very welcome, Bridget! It was such fun putting this post together -- your fabulous pictures are endlessly inspiring :). Little Ted says to tell you he's had enough cheese for awhile, though. . .
Feb. 15th, 2011 10:49 pm (UTC)
So I had this picture book when I was wee. Its title was, I think, Caroline. It was large book, way longer than 28 pages and it followed the adventures of Caroline all over. I loved that book. I wish I knew its exact title and the author's name so I could find it again. The reason I tell this mournful story is that Bridget's art reminds me of that book: the worlds of emotion in each character's face, especially the secondary characters. I got lost in that book. I can imagine that kids will get lost in Mini Racer. Bravo.
Feb. 16th, 2011 02:38 pm (UTC)
Oh, Lindsey -- I hope you find your Caroline book! You've said it perfectly: "the worlds of emotion in each character's face." Yes, you're right; kids will love following each animal along the racecourse, all the bumps and reactions and disappointments. I love getting "lost" in good illustrations -- it's like the artist included surprises and details just for me to discover.
Feb. 15th, 2011 11:29 pm (UTC)
Hooray! This looks fabulous - and a bit like a loving tribute to Richard Scarry, based on the illos!
Feb. 16th, 2011 02:39 pm (UTC)
Yes, I also thought of Richard Scarry. Something going on in every inch of the pictures. Lots of fun. :)
(Deleted comment)
Feb. 16th, 2011 02:40 pm (UTC)
Definitely a cute book. Thanks for liking my edible cars. Just so you know, they tasted pretty good afterwards :).
Feb. 17th, 2011 08:30 pm (UTC)
Another fun food book
Hello Jama,
I'm one of Bridget's illustrator friends. I love your blog! I have a book you'd like which was published in France by Flammarion. The title is L'artichouette by Schuyt and Elffers. The original was published in German. Here's a link, so you can see the cover. I believe only used copies are available now.

Feb. 17th, 2011 09:42 pm (UTC)
Re: Another fun food book
Bonjour, Jeanne!

Thanks for the link. The book *does* look wonderful. Probably not available in the U.S.?
( 22 comments — Leave a comment )

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