Author: Eric Wight
Publisher: Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers
Genre: Realistic Fiction, Graphic Novel
Themes: Teamwork, Setting Goals
Age Range: 2nd-5th Grade
Summary: (from Goodreads)
Frankie Pickle returns for another imaginative adventure and this time it all comes down to race cars. Well, not quite race cars, but the Pine Run Derby for scouts. Frankie is in danger of not advancing to the next ranking with the rest of his troop unless he can win the Pine Run 3000. But Frankie wants to do everything on his own so he imagines himself as a world-class sculptor, a mad scientist, and of course, a pro-racecar driver. In the end, Frankie learns that team work is the only way he won't get left in the dust.
Frankie is a character that a lot of kids can relate to. He is messy and clumsy and always seems to get himself into trouble. He really wants to do the right thing, but sometimes his impulsive behavior gets in the way-which pretty much describes almost every nine-year-old boy I've ever met. Frankie is determined to do everything himself, despite the fact that his father wants desperately to help him. Turns out, there is a family tradition of racing model cars in the Pine Run 3000, and Frankie realizes that sometimes teamwork is better than going it alone.
The ending is good, mostly because he doesn't actually win the race, which is more realistic than an awful lot of books. But he still gets his desire to move up in the ranks of the marsupials, because his hard work was recognized even though he didn't come in first. Considering the competitive nature of our society, and the fact that most kids think if they aren't "first" they are losers, this is a nice message. Good addition to a classroom library.