Lucky’s 24-Hour Garage

by Daniel Kirk
Hyperion, 1996
lucky Garage

Book Description
Ding ding! The air-hose bell chimes as cars pull up to the gleaming pumps at Lucky’s 24-hour Garage.“Fill ‘er up!” call the impatient drivers to Angelo, who works the long night shift. The hear is 1939, and cars, motorcycles, and trucks roll through on their way to anywhere- Michigan, Texas, Delaware, Ohio. And Angelo pumps gas, wipes windshields, and has a smile for every passerby. Especially for one little visitor who arrives with the dawn. Daniel Kirk’s poignant text and lush oil paintings beautifully portray an American icon, as well as the spirit and energy of this bygone day.

Reviews of Lucky’s 24-hour Garage 

American Booksellers Pick of the Lists

Review from School Library Journal
This period piece takes readers through the night shift at Lucky’s 24-hour Garage in 1939. The poetic text gives the details of the parade who enrich Angelo’s world. Careful research is reflected in the stylized art-deco oil paintings. Young children who like vehicles and gas stations may enjoy this as a simple story, older readers can find both answers and questions about the differences in daily life between then and now.

Review from Children’s Book Review Service

The pictures, rendered in oil paint on canvas, are vivid, colorful, and truly exceptional. The acquisition of this book is a must for collectors of children’s books.

Daniel Kirk speaks about Lucky’s 24-Hour Garage

I got the idea for Lucky’s 24-Hour Garage while sitting in a restaurant with my family.
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The place was decorated with old advertising signs, and right across from our table was a big old metal sign that advertised a garage in Chicago.

As I sat munching my veggie burger, I drifted back to the times I visited my grandparents in Chicago when I was a boy. I remembered sleeping in the back seat of the car on the long drive north, and waking up when my dad would pull the car into a gas station to fill the engine. I recalled the guys in uniform who pumped gas, wiped the windshields, and checked the oil under the hood

I decided to write a book about an old time gas station, to share with children something of the experience of American life on the road. Before doing research for Lucky’s 24-Hour Garage, I made rough sketches of the scenes I wanted to paint. Since I didn’t have a clear idea of what people wore back in the 1930’s, I spent days looking through piles of old magazines. I found lots of photographs of people in vintage clothes, and advertisements that had pictures of gas stations. I went to a vintage car show, and looked at the library for books about old cars. I carried a camera around with me in case I saw an old car I wanted to photograph. For one illustration of a vintage candy-vending machine, I had to do research on 1930’s candy bars!

Things to think about and do once you have read Lucky’s 24-Hour Garage

1. What do you think it would be like to work all night long, like Angelo in Lucky’s 24-Hour Garage?
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Do you think it would be fun to be awake while everyone else is sleeping?

2. Would it be fun to work at a gas station? What part of working at a gas station would be the most rewarding or enjoyable? What would be the hardest part?

3. Go with a parent when it’s time get the car filled up at the gas station, and pay attention to what happens there. Do customers at the gas station fill their tanks themselves, or does someone who works there pump the gas for you? Does the man at the gas station check the oil or wash your windshield, or do you do it yourself? Think about the ways gas stations have changed since the time of Lucky’s 24-Hour Garage. Do you think gas stations are better, more fun or more interesting now than they were in the past? Or are they pretty much the same?

                              Copyright 2015 | Daniel Kirk