Monday, July 21, 2008

Rattletrap Car: A Great Summer Read-Aloud

Here’s a terrific summertime read-aloud for young children. It was a favorite in my elementary school library. Rattletrap Car is a good book for introducing children to onomatopoeia and for predicting skills. The book has rhythmic refrains and words that are fun to say. I always encouraged children in the library to participate in the telling of the story when I read it to them. (See below.)

Written by Phyllis Root
Illustrated by Jill Barton
Candlewick Press, 2001

The Characters: Poppa and his three children--Junie, Jakie, and “the baby”

The Story: It’s a hot hot hot summer day. Junie, Jakie, and the baby want to go to the lake to cool off. Father is concerned that they might not make it to the lake in his “rattletrap” car. As Poppa says, “It doesn’t go fast and it doesn’t go far.” But the children insist…so Poppa decides to give it a try. The family packs up everything they want to take along for their outing at the lake:

  • Dad packs a thermos full of razzleberry dazzleberry snazzleberry fizz and a tub of chocolate marshmallow fudge delight.
  • Junie takes her beach ball.
  • Jakie takes his surfboard.
  • The baby takes her three-speed, wind-up, paddle-wheel boat.

Little do the characters know that they will need everything they’re taking with them even before they reach the lake.

Once everyone is in the car, Poppa turns the key…

brum brum brum brum
Clinkety clankety
bing bang pop!


They were off to the lake
In their rattletrap car.
They didn’t go fast and
They didn’t go far when


The tire went flat.

Oh my goodness! What are they going to do? Junie knows. She gets her beach ball and sticks it onto the car in place of the flat tire with some of the chocolate marshmallow fudge delight.

The family sets off again on the trip to the lake…but...

whumpety whomp!
The floor fell off.

No problem! Jakie takes his surfboard and sticks it to the underside of the car with…what else?...chocolate marshmallow fudge delight.

With a
Wappity bappity
lumpety bumpety
clinkety clankety
bing bang pop!

They are off to the lake once more. Then the gas tank falls off. Not to worry. Dad attaches the thermos of razzleberry dazzleberry snazzleberry fizz to the rear of the car--with chocolate marshmallow fudge delight--and the family is back on the road. But when the engine falls out, it seems their hopes of ever getting to the lake are dashed. Jakie, Junie, even Poppa don’t have a clue what to do to get the car running again. That’s when the baby shakes her three-speed, wind-up, paddle-wheel boat and cries, “Go, go, go.”

Junie, Jakie, and Poppa get to work putting the baby’s boat in place of the fallen engine. Then Poppa turns the key and the car starts up. Sure enough…the family makes it to the beach in their "rattletrap car." They splash in the water and stay cool all day long…till the moon comes up and they get into the car and go…

flippita fluppita
fizzelly sizzelly
wappity bappity
lumpety bumpety
clinkety clankety
bing bang

all the way back home.

Library/Classroom Suggestions

1. Prior to reading the book aloud, print the words below on large chart paper. Point to the words as you read them aloud to children. Do this a few times until children know the words. Then encourage them to join you in saying the words when they are repeated several times in the book…along with the addition of a new line (two words) each time the family fixes a "rattletrap car" problem and sets off on the road again.

lumpety bumpety
clinkety clankety
bing bang

2. Tell children to listen carefully as you read to them all the things the family took with them to the beach. Tell them it will be important to remember what they brought along.

3. When the family experiences their first problem--the flat tire--ask children what item the family brought along that they might be able to use in place of the tire? Do the same with the car floor, gas tank, and engine.

My students loved saying words like razzleberry dazzleberry snazzleberry fizz and those listed above and repeating the refrains with me as I read Rattletrap Car aloud. I got lots of requests for this book after I shared it in the library.

Lesson Idea
A Lesson from Writing Fix: An Onomatopoetic Field Trip (using onomatopoeia to tell the story of an imaginary field trip)

Art by Jill Barton
Images of some illustrations done by Jill Barton for Rattletrap Car and other picture books.

Three More Books Illustrated by Jill Barton


Jules at 7-Imp said...

Seven cheers for Phyllis Root, who is a master!

Elaine Magliaro said...


I love Root's books! I so enjoyed reading RATTLETRAP CAR to my students. One of my other favorite books by Root is OLIVER FINDS HIS WAY--which has wonderful illustrations by Christopher Denise.

Jules at 7-Imp said...