Smash! Crash! (Jon Scieszka's Trucktown Series)

Overview

Welcome to Jon Scieszka's Trucktown, a brand-new preschool/kindergarten series that will come in more shapes, sizes, and formats than you can shake a bumper at. It's a world where all the characters are trucks, all the stories are action driven, and boys and girls can imagine themselves in all their crazy, loud, funny, creative, excited, full-throttle glory! It's a world where we work at play, and we play at work...and no one's afraid to get dirty or be LOUD! And it all kicks off with Smash! Crash! Best friends ...

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Overview

Welcome to Jon Scieszka's Trucktown, a brand-new preschool/kindergarten series that will come in more shapes, sizes, and formats than you can shake a bumper at. It's a world where all the characters are trucks, all the stories are action driven, and boys and girls can imagine themselves in all their crazy, loud, funny, creative, excited, full-throttle glory! It's a world where we work at play, and we play at work...and no one's afraid to get dirty or be LOUD! And it all kicks off with Smash! Crash! Best friends Jack and Dan are spending their day doing what they do best - smashing and crashing! All the while a strange shadow is following them around every corner...Who is this new addition to Trucktown? What does she want? Rhythmic, rollicking text will get kids' motors running and horns honking with each refrain! This is a book that begs to be read again and again!

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Editorial Reviews

Gregory Cowles
Smash! Crash!, is as rowdy and colorful as anything [Scieszka's] written…Parents probably won't love this series the way they love The Stinky Cheese Man, but that's only because as Scieszka reaches out to younger readers, he's stopped trying so hard to please the grown-ups. I might miss his tap-dancing—in the end, I'm a grown-up too—but Scieszka knows his audience. The same children who chant "Can we fix it?" as they watch "Bob the Builder," after all, turn around and yell "Can we break it?" as they attack their block towers. For them, Trucktown should be a smash.
—The New York Times
Children's Literature
AGERANGE: Ages 4 to 8.

Loud, clanging, obnoxious trucks take center stage as they smash and crash into everything in their way. Jack Truck and Dump Truck Dan are best friends who spend their days rolling and racing along streets, alleys and gravel pits while revving their engines and wrecking buildings in their paths. We also meet many of their friends, who are just as rambunctious and colorful. The intended audience is no doubt young preschool boys; many girls will be repelled by the blatant poor behavior and destruction caused by of these impish vehicles. Watch out for reenactment of the modeled behavior at home or school with any toy trucks, buildings or furniture. It might be best to clear the path! Jack and Dan are followed by an ominous shadow at almost every stop, along with a thunderous voice attempting to gain their attention by shouting: "Hey, you two…" Finally, they cannot outrun the voice or the shadow, but they need not be frightened. Find out why on the very last page. The illustration team of Long, Gordon and Shannon certainly bring their collective talents to the task. The settings are very realistic, though the characters are somewhat exaggerated, as they should be. Reviewer: Elizabeth Young

School Library Journal

PreS-Gr 1
Scieszka teamed up with Shannon, Long, and Gordon to create a vibrant locale inhabited by personified vehicles. In this rollicking escapade, best pals Jack Truck and Dump Truck Dan are in the mood for smashing and crashing. They search for other friends to join in, including Cement Mixer Melvin, Monster Truck Max, and Grater Kat, but they are all too busy working. Although they interrupt their friends' tasks, Jack and Dan's smashing and crashing ultimately helps each truck get the job done. Throughout the story, the comrades continually flee from a menacing shadow. It turns out to be Wrecking Crane Rosie, who demands that they follow her; Jack and Dan are surprised to discover she needs their help to smash and crash a building. Told in brief catchy language, the story zooms along with plenty of pizzazz and action. Children will want to jump in and repeat the "Smash! Crash!" refrain. The winning full-color digital artwork adds plenty of personality to the characters and perfectly suits the text. A foldout page illustrates Rosie's imposing height, and endpapers introduce the cast. Entertaining as a group read-aloud or one-on-one selection, this book is sure to be a hit with truck lovers. Be on the lookout for more "Trucktown" adventures.
—Lynn K. VancaCopyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

Kirkus Reviews
The irrepressible Scieszka has set his sites on entertaining a younger crowd and getting them (boys especially) hooked on the joys of reading. Best friends Jack Truck and Dump Truck Dan love to spend their days smashing and crashing. First they demolish a construction site; then they have a little too much messy fun with their friend Cement Mixer Melvin. On the construction side, they help Monster Truck Max stack barrels and build an amazing pirate fort for Gabriella Garbage Truck and Grader Kat. But all day they have been dogged by a mysterious shadow-are they in trouble for all their mischievous destruction? No. It's just Wrecking Crane Rosie offering a positive outlet for their destructive tendencies. Jack's and Dan's energy and zest are perfectly captured by the trio of illustrators who collaborated to create the characters for the entire series. With their anthropomorphized vehicles, lots of dust clouds and junkyard parts, and a font that incorporates truck parts into individual letters, they are sure to please. The combination of high-energy artwork and exuberant characters are sure to make the Trucktown series a necessary purchase for every garage library. (Picture book. 3-7)
The Barnes & Noble Review
Almost 20 years ago, Jon Scieszka (rhymes with "Fresca") introduced children to the unreliable narrator in The True Story of the Three Pigs by A. Wolf. If you recall, the wolf was framed -- he didn't kill those pigs, it was an accident! Scieszka brought satire, irony, and smelly cheese to a whole generation in books like The Time Warp Trio series and Squids Will Be Squids.

If that wasn't enough, in January 2008, Librarian of Congress James H. Billington appointed Scieszka the first National Ambassador for Young People's Literature. The position was created to "raise national awareness of the importance of young people's literature as it relates to lifelong literacy, education, and the development and betterment of the lives of young people." A heavy charge, but as his latest work for kids shows, Scieszka's sly approach to "young people's literature" carries exactly the right message: it's play time.

Mr. Scieszka was an elementary school teacher for years before becoming a wildly successful children's book author. To say that he "got" kids is an understatement. A few years back when studies were being published that boys' reading scores were not only behind girls but dropping, he began the Guys Read campaign (www.guysread.com), challenging parents, teachers, and librarians to provide high-interest books for boys. His view, which was backed up by research, was that if we wanted to get boys to read more, we had to stop being so rigid. Reading comics is reading. Reading Sports Illustrated is reading. Poring over David MacCaulay's schematics of the intricacies of building pyramids is just as legitimate for independent reading assignments as 20 pages of Little House on the Prairie.

On the surface, this venture looks like many other contemporary picture books. It is a full-color, 32-page book with cartoony-looking trucks reminiscent of a Pixar film. To the untutored eye, it's nothing special. Indeed, the first book out of the gate looks entirely more commercial that his many previous inventive partnerships with the acclaimed artist Lane Smith. Not one but three picture book artists -- David Shannon (No, David), Loren Long (Little Engine That Could), and David Gordon (Three Little Rigs) -- collaborated to create a cohesive design for the series.

The creative process was, it seems, out of the ordinary. Scieszka brought the ambitious and preschool-friendly Trucktown to the table. Then, each artist created his own idea of what the trucks should look like, and the team picked parts from each to create a visual vocabulary. These components were manipulated digitally to create the 50 books planned for the series. The result is remarkable. In the first title -- Smash! Crash! -- the trucks' animated visages barrel across double-page spreads. Visible paint strokes fill in the foreground as the tiny details of the setting -- piles of junk, the texture of the road, and signage of the environment -- focus the view. Even the text (set in a unique typeface puckishly named "Truck King") seems to be zooming.

What seems like just another book about trucks is actually a subversive call-to-arms. Scieska is taking on parents, teachers, and others in the educational establishment who are pressuring younger and younger children (four- and five-year-olds) into academic subjects. Throughout the United States, kindergartners who are not developmentally ready are forced into a beginning reading and math curriculum -- even though there is no evidence that learning these skills at an early age will produce academic success later on. What we do know is that children are losing time to play.

Creative play -- pretend play, dramatic play, playground play, playing with blocks -- fosters development of children's learning of language. Play supports the development of children's cognitive, linguistic, and socio-emotional skills. A clinical report published in October 2006 by the American Academy of Pediatrics stated that too little time for unstructured play was increasing stress in parents and children. Many parents and policy makers believe that early academics will lead to later success when actually the opposite is true.

Does a child enter the first grade knowing all of their letters? Colors? Counting to 100? Great! But even better is the ability to concentrate, to pay attention, and to consider the needs of others. These are the skills children learn in interactive play.

That is what Trucktown is -- a glorious place of age-appropriate creative play. The endpapers introduce the cast of characters, and children can identify their favorites from among an archetypal array. Have you met the twin fire trucks and their sweet baby sister, the EMS vehicle? There's angry and overbearing Big Rig, or Monster Truck Max, rendered slightly off-kilter with appealingly googly eyes. The illustrations work to resist stereotypes -- Gabriella is an unexpectedly pink garbage truck. Introduced in the first volume are the kid-like Jack Truck and Dump Truck Dan: best friends who, yes, like to smash and crash.

While each truck's grillwork displays a complex palette of emotions and expressions, Scieszka's words provide the perfect mix of action, suspense, and repetition, as Jack Truck and Dump Truck Dan meet up with the other denizens of Trucktown they are shadowed by a mysterious voice shouting, "Hey, You Two. I Want You." Jack and Dan step on the gas. "Uh-oh." "Got to go."

Scieska not only understands child development, he also is an insightful writer who does not simplify the world that children experience. In this first book, he introduces each character in the complicated dance of play. How does one child join a group already engaged? What if one wants to smash and crash and the others are pretending to be pirates? These negotiations are part of the learning process that all children need to master in order to be successful in society.

Play is children's work. They aren't just playing; they are processing their world and gaining skills that will serve them for their entire lives. Jon Scieszka's Trucktown is sending a strong message. Let 'em play! --Lisa Von Drasek

Lisa Von Drasek is the children's Librarian at the Bank Street College of Education. Her reviews and commentary have appeared in School Library Journal, The New York Times, Kirkus Reviews, The Bark, Knowledge Quest, Teaching K-8, Nick Jr., and more.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781416941330
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers
  • Publication date: 1/8/2008
  • Series: Jon Scieszka's Trucktown Series
  • Pages: 42
  • Sales rank: 169,820
  • Age range: 3 - 5 Years
  • Lexile: AD130L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 10.30 (w) x 10.30 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Jon Scieszka

Jon Scieszka is the creator of Trucktown, including the New York Times bestselling Smash, Crash!, and the author of The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs!, the Time Warp Trio series, Caldecott Honor Book The Stinky Cheese Man, and many other books that inspire kids to want to read. He has worked as an elementary school teacher and is the founder of GuysRead.com, a literacy initiative for boys.

David Shannon has written and illustrated numerous award winning picture books including Duck on a Bike, the Caldecott Honor Book No David!, How I Learned to be a Pirate, and Good Boy Fergus. He is also one of the collaborative illustrators in Jon Scieszka’s Trucktown series. David lives with his wife and his daughter in Los Angeles.

Loren Long illustrated President Barack Obama’s Of Thee I Sing; the newest version of The Little Engine that Could; Madonna’s second picture book, Mr. Peabody’s Apples; Nightsong by Ari Berk; and the Barnstormers series. He also illustrated Frank McCourt’s Angela and the Baby Jesus and is part of the Design Garage for Jon Scieszka’s Trucktown series. Loren’s work has appeared in Time, Sports Illustrated, Forbes, The Wall Street Journal, and The Atlantic. He lives with his wife and two sons in Westchester, Ohio. Visit him at LorenLong.com.

David Gordon is the author and illustrator of the critically acclaimed The Ugly Truckling and The Three Little Riggs. His first book for Simon & Schuster was the adorable Smitten. He has done concept work for Pixar’s Toy Story; Toy Story 2; A Bug’s Life; Monsters, Inc.; and Cars; as well as Nickelodeon’s SpongeBob SquarePants. He also did character design work on Blue Sky’s Robots. He lives in New York City. Visit him at IllustratorRanch.com.

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 22 Customer Reviews
  • Posted April 21, 2009

    The Trucktown series is a "fun" read with a toddler. There are special effect sounds that are fun to make too.

    My 2 yr old grandson is fascinated with cars, trucks, etc. He has low vision and the illustrations in this series are large, bright and easy for him to see. Trucktown is one of his favorite books.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 7, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Must add to you library

    If you are a parent or a teacher this book needs to be added to your library. My four year old son loves this book and takes it with him everywhere. The illustrations are amazing and tell a story separate from the text. The variations of text (font) make the book come to life and draw early readers attention to print. Jack and Dan love to smash and crash but they are helpful in their own unique way.

    This is a great book for a read aloud or for lap reading at home.

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  • Posted June 22, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    My son is addicted!

    My 2 1/2 year old son LOVES this book! He yells smash crash with me and knows the names of all the trucks. It does get old after the 100th reading though.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 21, 2009

    Boys will love this book!

    I first found this book at our local library, and my son was so sad to return it that we had to buy it. The illustrations are great. The story is fun, quick, and entertaining. We have found other stories from the Truck Town series at our library, and we love them all.

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  • Posted April 14, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    A Read-aloud Delight!

    My two-year-old nephew loves to have this read to him over and over again. Even when he is just playing by himself, we can hear him yelling "Smash CRASH!" I would recommend this for little ones who have an affinity for things with wheels!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 29, 2008

    my 3 year old son loves this book

    My 3 year old son absolutely loves this book. I found it at the library and ended up buying it later on since we checked it out so much. My son 'reads' this book to himself during the day and always requests it at bedtime. I'm looking forward to more in the series. Jack & Dan certainly smash and crash but if you pay attention to the pictures and words, they are helping out their friends and end up building something instead of random destruction.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 10, 2008

    My kids love this book!

    My 4yr-old daughter and 20-mo. son absolutely love this book and beg us to read it to them at bedtime.(My daughter reads it to her brother at nap time.)It's an imaginative tale of trucks that both girls and boys can appreciate for it's rambunctious nature.

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