Review Blog

Nov 23 2008

The minister for traffic lights by Tony Wilson and Andrew McLean

cover image

Lothian, $28.99 hb, ISBN 9780734408075.
(Ages 3-7) In a beautifully illustrated picture book, Tony Wilson has created a story about a warm and loving family. It has a most unusual theme: Dad is the government Minister for Traffic Lights but is never heard of because traffic lights 'hardly ever make the news'. He is obsessed with traffic lights and has six traffic light ties in red, green and amber; his house is decorated in the same colours and a flag of Cameroon hangs in the bedroom because it has the same colours as traffic lights. When road rage becomes a problem, Dad comes up with a new colour and law to solve the dilemma.

The strength of this book is its portrayal of family life. McLean has drawn a loving family with all the accoutrements of family living and a bespectacled father that many children will be able to identify with. There are pictures of Dad cuddling his two children on the couch, a messy living room with papers and socks littering the floor and even a cat drinking out of the toilet. Close examination of the illustrations with their touches of gentle humour will bring smiles to the faces of the reader.

The whimsical story, with its original premise, is not easily forgotten: Tony Wilson, on his website , says that it is 'a personal crusade to teach kids about the colour mauve and the way parliamentary bills enjoy passage into law'. It could also be useful when discussing careers and families with young children.
Pat Pledger

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