Hidden within the pages of this intriguing book are the letters and numbers which make up Ruby's numberplate.
Ruby was made in 1934 by Austin Motor Company in Longbridge, England. She's shiny, she's beautiful and this is her story.
Once again Thompson (The Paper Bag Prince; Looking for Atlantis) breaks barriers of narrative time and space with an ornately crafted, multilevel picture book. Simultaneously told (and cleverly intertwined) stories revolve around a ruby-red Austin 7 manufactured in 1934. As panels at the top of each spread illustrate the around-the-world adventures, decline and restoration of one of these cars, the spreads below tell a far more fanciful tale about a family of tiny people who live in the roots of a tree. Young Kevin leaves the safety of the tree to explore a gorgeous motor car (the Ruby of the title), and ends up imprisoned in a combination-lock briefcase within. Searching for Kevin, the whole family forages through a carload of quirky items (e.g., an announcement that the Wholefood Players is presenting ``La Belle Dame Sans Muesli''). The correct numbers for opening the lock are hidden in the welter of illustrative clues crammed into every spread-readers who discover the solution can enter a sweepstakes to win Ruby itself. Just looking at these fabulous pictures, however, will be reward enough for most. All ages.