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Keegan Brown
Mechanics! The Musical

Picture Book; General Fiction (including literary and historical); (Publish)

In Mechanics! The Musical, Tony, Joey, and Louie work hard fixing cars in their old and dusty shop each day, but they also dream big! In a town resistant to change, three mechanics use their talent, courage, and grit to help them earn a standing ovation, fulfilling their dream of starring in a musical!

In Brown’s playful and inspiring picture book for children, three mechanics overcome doubt and uncertainty to fulfill their dream of writing and performing in a musical. Tony, Joey, and Louie work long days fixing cars and motorcycles in an old and dusty shop, but in their downtime their daydreams take them to the stage. One day Tony announces, “Wake up! The time is now you see! We’ll make this dream a reality!” As they go about their jobs, their tools are suddenly transformed—Tony dances with his broom, Joey builds set pieces, and Louie’s oil funnel becomes a trumpet. At night they stay up late to bring their Broadway visions to life.

Here, of course, is where skepticism sets in, both from themselves and those around them. The enterprising trio encounters various frustrations in their late-night practice sessions, and their concerns are echoed in the mutterings of passersby who “didn’t want the shop to change.” Still, the aspiring performers don’t give up. Tony learns to dance, Joey “glams up” the cluttered shop, and Louie turns pipes and brakes into instruments. The characters’ persistence—and their unfettered joy when they succeed—will show young people that their goals are worth fighting for, even if other people think they are odd. It will also show that self-doubt is a normal part of the creative process.

Eller’s colorful, collage-style illustrations suit this story well, showing the three friends busy at work repairing vehicles and planning and performing their musical amidst cut-and-paste backdrops of tires, tools, and old license plates. Some pictures incorporate many details and real-world images of cars and air compressors, while others are more minimal and allow kids to fill in details with their own imaginations. Ultimately, this story reminds young readers of the value of hard work and determination—and never giving up on one’s dreams.

Takeaway: In Brown’s playful and inspiring picture book,mechanics fulfill their dream of performing in a musical.

Great for fans of: R. J. Palacio’s We’re All Wonders, Matthew Forsythe’s Pokko and the Drum.

Production grades
Cover: A
Design and typography: A
Illustrations: A
Editing: A
Marketing copy: A