There are a bazillion children’s books, and the vast majority are horrible. Of the sliver that are good, hardly a handful are about cars. Over the last few years, Dwight Knowlton has written and illustrated two kid’s books that are as good as any that have ever been produced. The Greatest Race is his latest title, just in time for the car-crazed kid on your holiday shopping list.
The Greatest Race comes from the same author as The Little Red Racing Car, which told the story of a little boy and his dad, who just dragged home the carcass of a 1955 Maserati. The story is solid and honest, and the illustration is the kind of magical style that used to only appear in travel posters from the 1930s. If you have it, it’s a prized part of your library.
The Greatest Race is just as exquisitely illustrated, but the story is all true. It tells the tale of Sir Stirling Moss, and his record-breaking win at the tiller of a Mercedes-Benz 300SLR while Dennis Jenkinson manned the maps in the passenger seat.
We talked to Knowlton a few months back, and published a few sneak previews of the illustrations to come. We got a copy of the book, and it was every bit as awesome as promised.
A thousand car-killing miles in nine hours, over cobblestone public roads: It’s a record that still stands, and a story that everyone who ever thought about cars more than basic transportation should know. It’s a fantastic piece of work, but it gets an even bigger boost thanks to the involvement of Sir Stirling Moss himself, who provides the introduction, and even verified the material that Knowlton wrote about and illustrated. In one particular drawing, Knowlton searched for ages to locate a photo of Karl Kling’s Mercedes-Benz 300SLR wrecked in Rome. He developed a scene where Stirling Moss and Dennis Jenkinson passed by, from Moss’s viewpoint, based solely on the one photo he found. “I sent the rough sketch to Sir Stirling and asked if it might have looked something like this,” Knowlton writes on his Facebook page. “He said
‘Just like that!'”
It’s one thing to be a historian. It’s another to have the cooperation of a guy who was actually there.
This is a fabulous book from start to finish, with illustrations inside the covers that you and your kids will find as fascinating as the pages within.
For more information, visit CarpeGear.com.