by Julie Wilson
You wouldn’t know it from the cover or the general look of the book, but this one is squarely aimed at the juvenile market (ages 7–8). Even more specifically, it, as all Brinsford books, is conceived with the “reluctant” reader with literacy difficulties in mind. The whole Iconic Cars series (now numbering 8 titles) is edited by Jayne Garner, a teacher trainer with particular expertise in motivating underachieving boys.
Another thing you wouldn’t know from the cover photo or the title is that this book, except for a few general statements, is not about the history of Rolls-Royce motorcars as a whole, but rather is a primer of one particular model, the Goodwood Phantom saloon which is the first model created by BWM after it acquired this most British of brands.
The book is designed with a brief text on the left page and an accompanying, captioned photograph on the right. Dimensions, productions figures, and exterior and interior details are given throughout, and technical specifications are given in an Appendix. A Glossary is also supplied, defining a “chauffeur” as “somebody whose job it is to drive their boss around” and “transmission” as “another word for gearbox.” In simple sentences, we find that “the Phantom speeds up smoothly” and that “you would turn heads in this car.” Two pages show that the RR emblems on the wheels always remain upright.
My thoughts on Rolls Royce (which should be hyphenated, not only because it’s customary but because it is trademarked) are conflicted. I respect the pedagogical concept of using high-interest topics presented in an easy-to-read format, and I am certain there exists a contingent of seven-year-olds who would be delighted to find such a book in the school library. And I can see this as an appropriate gift from, say, a doting grandfather to his car-minded grandchild. Also, the photographs, supplied by BMW, are aesthetically pleasing and are of a strong, professional quality. And this is where I find unease with this book: Is it subtle propaganda? Is it yet another form of advertisement? Because of the apparent cooperation given to Axis Education by BMW, the book is awash with admiration and veneration. Not a hint of the controversy that surrounded BMW’s acquisition of the Rolls-Royce name appears, and there is no mention of the fact that some consider the Goodwood Phantom to be a controversial design. On the other hand, juvenile readers, literacy challenged or not, could probably care less. But does that justify taking liberties with history?
The publisher describes these books as “full of gritty text and an abundance of hard-facts” so they clearly feel they’re on the right track.
Copyright © 2012, Bill Wolf (speedreaders.info).