A Joyride Before Breakfast

h1 July 19th, 2022 by jules

“A tractor has wheels. A llama has no wheels.”
(Click spread to enlarge)


One of the funniest picture books you’ll see this year might fly so low under the radar that you’ll miss it. Here’s me doing my small part to ensure you don’t. Shannon McNeill’s Wheels, No Wheels (Tundra Books) arrived on shelves last month.

McNeill creates a farm world — via crisply colored illustrations rendered in gouache, graphite powder, and cut paper — with some enterprising creatures who long to be on the move. But first, in a series of three dryly funny spreads, readers are reminded of the basic facts: “A tractor has wheels. A llama has no wheels.” (See above.) A bike might have wheels, but a cat has no wheels. (There stands the cat, giving us some side-eye.) A skateboard also has wheels, but a turtle is out of luck. When the animals spot the tractor, their faces brighten. The farmer — a child in overalls, working hard on the farm — waves a finger: “Whoa! NO. Animals don’t go.” But suddenly they are off. “Llama has wheels! Cat has wheels! Turtle has wheels!” (This is also pictured below.)

The rest of the story — with all its satisfying visual flourishes, spot-on facial expressions, energetic momentum, and rewarding chaos — chronicles the farmer’s attempt to stop the creatures. This involves a wide-eyed chicken on the biggest set of wheels.

McNeill’s text features short, simple declarative and exclamatory sentences (and a couple of questions, including the delightful: “So, wait … Chicken has wheels?”). Expect laughter — and lots — from the young children at whom this story is aimed. The very premise is an entertaining dash of absurdity, and watching it all play out? The snail.

Her are some spreads. Enjoy!


“The gate swings opn. Hit the road!
Llama has wheels! Cat has wheels! Turtle has wheels!”

(Click spread to enlarge)


“Here’s a friend who walks and rolls.
Ox has wheels! Farmer has wheels!”

(Click spread to enlarge)


“Vrooming, zooming, never stopping. Up ahead a zebra crossing.
Hit the brakes! OH, NO!”

(Click spread to enlarge)


(Click cover to enlarge)


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WHEELS, NO WHEELS. Copyright © 2022 by Shannon McNeill. Illustrations reproduced by permission of the publisher, Tundra Books, an imprint of Penguin Random House of Canada Limited.

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