Digby O’Day In the Fast Lane, by Shirley Hughes, illustrated by Clara Vulliamy first U.S. edition 2014 by Candlewick Press
Digby O’Day is an adventurous, nattily-dressed dog whose favorite possession is his car, a sweet red machine, sparkling clean, though unhappily prone to engine troubles.
Digby and his pal, Percy, love to tool around the countryside together in the car. Their one annoyance is that hoity-toity neighbor Lou Ella. Lou Ella buys a new car every year. She goes for expensive, fast, pink sports cars. So provoking.
Digby, Percy, Lou Ella and a host of others are about to take their places and ready their engines for an All-Day Race from Didsworth to Dodsworth. They’re allowed to choose any route they like. Digby’s first route nearly spells disaster! Next, he kindly takes time to rescue a family in a broken-down car. Lou Ella’s car is so speedy,and Lou Ella herself is so haughty. Is there any chance for the amiable Digby and Percy to win?!
This charming beginning-chapter book is the first installment of a new series by dear Shirley Hughes and her daughter, Clara Vulliamy. It’s quite a new direction for Shirley, but as always, her plot is nicely developed for young children. The story is exciting, the heroes are immensely likeable, and Lou Ella is a wonderfully peevish villainess.
Additionally, Vulliamy’s illustrations are oh-so-perky. A bit retro, with a color scheme of eye-popping reds, pleasant pink, gray and black. Quite snappy. The layout of the pages is outstanding, with snippets of text dancing in and out of illustration, keeping us happily turning pages.
There are lots of juicy extras, too. An interview with Digby. Jolly maps. Snazzy chapter headings. A host of old-fashioned games to play in the car, drawing projects, a Digby O’Day quiz, a friendly introduction to the author and illustrator and a sneak peek ahead to more Digby adventures.
Like so many of Shirley’s books, this will appeal to a wide audience, boys and girls, newly-independent readers or younger listeners. I suggest you take it out for a spin!