Carl Johanson is a Swedish illustrator who lives and works in Bretagne, France, and this beautiful book was first published in Frenchunder the title Le Catalogue des Voitures. It certainly does resemble a catalogue – the vehicles presented within are broken down into sections of farm vehicles, airport vehicles, emergency vehicles, etc. – but instead of just illustrating existing modes of transport and haulage, Johanson lets his weird and wacky imagination soar.
In the book we have illustrations of snowploughs, catering trucks, fire engines and steamrollers, all executed in flat colours and simple lines with an admirable Swedish/Scandi eye for design and style. But these everyday vehicles are pictured alongside extraordinary creations such as the sausage car, the Jules Verne car, the skyscraper car, and my all-time favourite, the giraffe ambulance.
In some ways reminiscent of Nick Sharratt’s Octopus Socktopus in its ability to take a theme and push it to its most chucklesome and ridiculous limits, this thoughtful and zany picturebook is as educational as it is fantastical; kids will love the depictions of familiar and not-so-familiar vehicles while at the same time having their imaginations well and truly aroused by the bizarre cars, buses, trucks and motorbikes that line up alongside them.
This book puts a new twist on the classic kid’s catalogue style book by adding a big dollop of amiable lunacy.