Tire Mountain

In the inner city, Aaron creates hope right outside his door. Aaron loves the corner where he lives. Right next to their house is Aaron's dad's shop, Cincy Tire and Wheel. His dad can change a tire faster than Aaron can say his name. And Aaron is always ready to help take the old tires to his Tire Mountain. But Aaron's mom is tired of living in the city. She wants to move someplace where Aaron will have room to run and play. Aaron convinces his mom that there is plenty of space to play on their very own corner.

Mama's tired of cars coming and going and the smell of rubber all around. "William," she tells Dad. "We are absolutely wallowing in tired." But we're lucky to have our very own tire shop right next to our house. Dad can change a tire faster than I can say Aaron Jacob Johnson, and I have a tire mountain that gets taller every day.
Author perspective

Every day when I ride my bicycle to the community college where I teach, I pass a tire shop on the corner. I often see a little boy playing on a mound of tires. We wave to each other. The corner is run down, but the little boy looks happy there. In Tire Mountain, he becomes Aaron Jacob Johnson.


Publisher's Weekly

In this understated and affecting story, Aaron’s mama wants a better life for her family—“someplace clean and beautiful.” To her, that means moving the family away from the smelly, noisy city street corner where they live and operate a tire business. Aaron loves his corner and the mountain of used tires produced by his father’s work (“Dad can change a tire faster than I can say Aaron Jacob Johnson”). When his mother shows him a pamphlet with pictures of “perfect” suburban houses, he wishes he could “tear it into a thousand pieces.” Détente is finally reached after Aaron turns a nearby empty lot into a clean, beautiful place of his own-–a playground outfitted with flower gardens, a swing, a tunnel and sandbox, all built with tires from the mountain. Cheng (Marika ) gracefully articulates the quiet understanding arrived at by mother and son. “Mama folds the pamphlet and uses it like a fan,” she writes. “ 'When we do move, some day,” asks Aaron gingerly, “ 'do you think we could take a tire... to make a tire swing?’ ” “ 'That could be arranged,’ ” responds Mama with a hug. At first glance, Condon’s (Sky Scrape/ City Scape ) blocky paintings feel wooden in comparison with the emotionally astute prose; even Aaron doesn’t seem quite at home in his environment. But as the story unfolds, the warm colors and mural-like qualities feel absolutely right. It’s a kid’s-eye view of the world, where physical presences offer rock-solid comfort. Ages 4-8. (Aug.)



Aaron’s dad owns a tire-service shop next door to their house. To Aaron, the odors emanating from the shop are the ambient aromas of home, but his mother complains and wants to move, “someplace clean and beautiful.” Aaron, though, loves to play on his ever-growing mountain of tires on which, come evening, he and his dad perch. As his mother begins looking for a new house, Aaron grows increasingly distraught and tensions rise at home. Meanwhile, a couple of bullies are cruising the blocks, making Aaron uneasy. Then he notices the tree on a patch of grass across the street—perfect for a tire swing. Soon he adds a tire tunnel and creates a tire garden from which flowers burst. Mom still wants to move, but with the new neighborhood gathering place of recycled tires, urgency and tension have eased. This text-heavy and multifaceted story is somewhat fraught with anxiety and will exclude the younger picture-book set, but the depth of emotion will attract early readers. The detailed illustrations are realistically depictive of the city and done in subtle chalky hues. (Picture book. 5-9)


Book type: 
Picture book
Front Street
Ken Condon
Publication date: 
Feb 2007
Interest level: