Claude and Manman usually walk Papa to the tap tap stop, where Claude sees people from his Haitian community boarding the bus on their way to the beach. The bus’s bright colors always catch Claude’s eye, but he has school and chores, and Manman says he can’t ride the tap tap.
Every day, Claude’s desire to ride the vehicle grows. He sees a woman carrying mangoes and dreams of mangoes; he sees a fisherman and fantasizes about “reeling in a jumbo fish”; he sees a woman carrying straw on her head and hopes one day he can weave a hat for Manman; and when he sees a painter heading to the beach, he longs to paint a picture of his own tap tap. Then one day after church, Claude’s dreams come true when Papa and Manman surprise him with a trip on the tap tap to the beachfront.
Author Danielle Joseph incorporates Haitian Creole words throughout I Want to Ride the Tap Tap, a joyous tale of everyday life in Haiti. Her ear for dialogue is particularly strong. “Bon bagay!” Claude often exclaims. The story provides context clues as to its meaning, though a glossary provides a specific translation (“This is good stuff!”). The days of the week, also written in Haitian Creole, provide the story with a satisfying structure.
Debut illustrator Olivier Ganthier’s images pop with vivid colors, especially in the exuberant closing spreads in which Claude has made it to the shore and finally has the chance to do all the things he dreamed of. These scenes have a palpable energy as they portray Claude’s jubilant Haitian community. Children everywhere know what it’s like to experience a day like this, when the week’s work is done and you can simply spend a day with the family you love.