At the beginning of this large-format, strikingly illustrated picture book, a young crow is encouraged by his mother to notice the wonders of the world around him. She tells him that if he has curiosity and self-belief there will be no limit to what he can achieve. When the young crow learns that peregrine falcons can fly at 242 miles an hour, he longs to be able to fly faster. His dreams are realised when he and his fellow young crows, seeking their own home, find a scrapyard full of parts and plans to build a speed record-breaking car.
This is a quirky, brilliantly illustrated mix of story and non-fiction as a tale of crows building a car transforms into a detailed and fascinating explanation of how the combustion engine works, complete with plans, diagrams and lists. The illustrations showcase Alan Snow’s characteristic ability to combine detail and humour to present technical information in an accessible way. There is a lot of text and the combination of story and information is unusual, but the crows are appealing characters, the use of fonts to highlight key concepts is effective, and the crows’ teamwork and achievements are very satisfying. This book defies easy categorisation, but it should appeal to all budding mechanical engineers and, indeed, to all young readers fascinated by how things work.