Book Spotlight: The Colossus of Roads

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Posted: December 21, 2020

Category: Staff Picks

A book cover with the title "The Colossus of Roads"Rick Rusek loves roads, even though driving on them makes him incredibly carsick. So, he enjoys them from a distance by exploring Los Angeles through maps and Google Street View. In his spare time, he works on his “Snarl Solution” – changes to signs and speed limits that should prevent traffic jams.

The problem is that Rick can’t get anyone to listen to his theories. Sure, his parents accept his help planning delivery routes for their catering company, but Rick’s attempts to share his ideas with the city’s Department of Transportation always fail.
One day, Rick’s friend Mila announces her girl scout group will be working with an artist on a unique set of canvases: old road signs donated by the artist’s sister, who works for the Department of Transportation.

Rick is thrilled at the chance to meet someone like that, and is very disappointed when the signs are dropped off by a regular delivery driver. Still, he’s quite happy to see all the road signs, and takes pride in making some look brand new.

When Rick notices the bad traffic on a nearby street, he uses a handful of his restored signs to test his theories about improving traffic flow. Amazingly, it all works just as he predicted. Vandals later destroy Rick’s signs, returning the street to its previous (horrible) traffic flow, but Rick is encouraged nevertheless.

Rick learns the artist’s sister has also given her a stack of blank work orders to install the art projects. Around the art installations, Rick also uses a handful of work orders to create his masterpiece: an overhaul of the Sepulveda Pass. The pass is a segment of freeway notorious for traffic jams and also the route his parents must use to deliver catering to a movie studio.

Can Rick make anyone listen to his ideas? Can he straighten out the traffic snarls in Los Angeles? Will he escape his old nickname, Carsick Rick?

The Colossus of Roads by Christina Uss is shelved upstairs, in the juvenile everyday life section of the Children’s Department.

If you enjoy The Colossus of Roads, you may also like Lunch Money by Andrew Clements. When Greg decides he should sell mini-comics to make money, things go great until his biggest rival does the same, and the administration cracks down on selling comics at school. Can Greg find a way to get his comics past them both?

Lunch Money is also shelved upstairs in the juvenile everyday life section of the Children’s Department.

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