The Way Cool License Plate Book


64 pages
Contains Photos
ISBN 1-55297-563-0
DDC j793.7





Reviewed by Steve Pitt

Steve Pitt is a Toronto-based freelance writer and an award-winning journalist. He has written many young adult and children's books, including Day of the Flying Fox: The True Story of World War II Pilot Charley Fox.


This book traces the history of the automobile licence plate from its
early days when car owners made their own plates out of wood or leather
to today’s modern reflective metal plates that can have messages that
tell something personal about the car’s owner. It also includes 22
games kids can play with licence plates, such as trying to top each
other with multiple letters (e.g., three Ds beats two Bs) or making
their own bingo cards and trying to fill in the grid with letters
gleaned from licence plates.

Most of the book consists of photos of actual vanity plates from across
North America. The plates are organized into chapters; these include
“Occupations,” “Animals,” “Car Terms,” “Exclamations,”
“Sports Terms,” and “Sayings.” In each chapter, Wise throws in a
few more historical facts (e.g., “During World War II, some states
used a soy-bean-based fibreboard to make licence plates. Goats really
liked them—to eat!”; “In 1903, Massachusetts issued its first
plate to Frederick Tudor. That plate is still held as an active
registration by his family, almost 100 years later”). Many of the
vanity plates featured in the book will intrigue those who love puns or
puzzles as they try to figure out what “OIMSOL8,” “LORIDR,”
“DRYANKUM,” or “IW84NO1” means. If you are facing a long trip
with a carload of children, this book might MAKMLAF. Recommended.


Wise, Leonard., “The Way Cool License Plate Book,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed May 22, 2024,