How can a full scale road traffic accident make a brilliant book?

posted in: Leo Timmers | 8

bangWithout a doubt Bang by Leo Timmers will win – hands down – the 2013 prize for the “Most Brilliant Use of Just Two Words in a Book“. It will also win the “Most Unlikely Scenario for Making a Really Funny Children’s Book“. After all, a 10 car pile-up with smashed chassis and goods strewn everywhere isn’t a bowlful of cherries or a reassuring hug at bedtime.

But Bang is most definitely a brilliant, bonkers book, and if it doesn’t win some sort of accolade (other than the ones I’ve awarded it) I’ll be most surprised.

The premise is simple: One car after another bangs into the car in front.

The text is simple: Double-page, wordless illustrations of brightly coloured vehicles crashing into each other alternate with an explosive “bang”, before finally someone manages to apply the brakes with a satisfying “eeeeeeeeeee”.

But the joy of reading and listening to this book is satisfying and many-layered.

There’s the slap stick humour, and the delicious inevitability – which kids quickly sense – about what’s going to happen on the next page.

There’s the enormous fun to be had reading the few words there are out loud – you’ve license to make lots of noise with the crashes getting ever louder. And of course kids will soon be joining in themselves.

There are the rich illustrations, with intense colours and funny detail. Whilst the Timmers’ execution is very different to Richard Scarry, it is easy to imagine Timmers’ vehicles and drivers inhabiting Busy Town.

And then there’s the capturing of an uncomplicated childhood delight – lying on the floor with a load of toy cars and zooming them around, laughing as they bash into each other.

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Really, this book is perfect; an explosion of colour and giggles, which will echo to the plea, “Again, again, AGAIN!”

It was inevitable that we got out our toy cars after reading this lovely book. And quickly we came up with a game to play, where points were doubled for every car crash.

On a long roll of wallpaper backing paper we stuck down some coloured gummed circles. The girls labelled them up with points. Once the runway was set up (with crash barriers built from building blocks) we lined up at one end and shot our cars down the track.

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If our cars landed on a gummed circle we scored the number of points indicated on that circle.

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If our car knocked another car off its circle we scored DOUBLE the points indicated on that circle.

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Competitive car games have never been this much fun (or this sneaky a way to get some maths into our play!!)

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We enjoyed this music whilst crashing our cars into each other:

  • Boom Bang A Bang by Lulu. This is particularly appropriate as the Dutch/Flemish version of this book is called “Boem” which is pronounced somewhat like “Boom” in English, so the title of the song really appeals to my bilingual nerdiness!
  • Bang Bang by Dizzy Gillespie


  • and of course

  • Chitty Chitty Bang Bang from the eponymous film
  • Other activities which could be great fun alongside reading Bang by Leo Timmers include:

  • Using a cardboard box to create a car you can sit in, with this tutorial from parenting.com.
  • Filling your house with loud bangs – blow up a load of balloons and let the kids loose on them with the instruction that they have to pop as many of them as possible in a set amount of time. We’ve done this for parties, with small gifts or confetti hidden inside the balloon. The only rule is that the kids can’t use any tools to pop the balloons, only their own body.
  • Painting with cars, by using their tracks to create marks in paint. Here’s how we did it!

  • What are your favourite books which make great use of onomatopoeia?

    Disclosure: I was sent a review copy of this book by the distributors. I was not obliged to review it, nor did I receive any payment for reviewing it.

    8 Responses

    1. Sam

      Love the car activity on the wallpaper backing! What a great way to be creative and get them practicing maths. I am trying to think of books that function purely (or mostly) on onomatopoeia but can’t at the moment… will keep trying!
      Sam recently posted..Review: Beegu, by Alexis Deacon

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