Sleepy Cars

Trucks, cars, diesels of all sorts are featured in this great read, Off Go Their Engines,  Off Go Their Lights.   Janice Milusich begins the taxi’s journey when it picks up a mother and her son.  On their way home, the boy notices several vehicles.  David Gordon narrows the focus by enlarging the auto mentioned in the text.  He features a fire engine pumper, a dump truck, a delivery van, a police car, ice-cream truck and of course, the yellow taxi.

Off Go Their Engines, Off Go Their LightsI find it refreshing that the story takes place on a drive home, a short amount of time.  Often times, students think they need to write about some special event.  Here is a text that takes an ordinary trip and uses the theme to teach the reader something.  Our children can write about events and conversations on the way home.

This book reminds me of when my children were younger.  Our oldest, Wes, was fascinated with the United States Flag.  He would be sitting in his car seat in the back and yell, “Flag!”  We began looking for it.  I was amazed at how often I would see our country’s symbol of freedom flying.  But it wasn’t until Wes took an interest and zoomed into the object did I ever notice the sites and occurences.  This book is like that.  Kids pass vehicles all the time.  Some children love looking for them.  They could write about them.  I love introducing a book that brings to new light a possible text they could try writing.

Savorings in reading and in writing for Off go their Engines, Off Go Their Lights:

  • Vocabulary – cruises, fare rumbles, patrolled
  • Colors – each vehicle is one color:  yellow, red, green, brown, blue, black & white
  • Repeating Structure – after the job has been completed, the vehicle goes to rest
  • Flashback – the vehicle flashes back to one scene in the day’s work
  • Repeating Lines – “Off Goes Its Engine.  CLICK.  Off Goes it Lights.  Good night, green dump truck, good night.”

(Warsaw Community Public Library)


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