Vestergaard (Potty Animals) offers 16 poetic tributes to big machines and trucks that should prove deeply satisfying to young connoisseurs and the grownups who read to them. Rising above the usual singsong name-checking, Vestergaard celebrates not only the jobs these machines perform but also their marvelous mechanics (the garbage truck’s hydraulic arms; the levers of the agile skid-steer loader). And she consistently makes word choices that offer both catchy aural hooks and powerful, concise descriptiveness. On a street sweeper: “His steely whiskers whisper/ as they gather dust and dirt./ They tickle all the gutters,/ then rinse them with a squirt.” Slonim’s (The Deer Watch) pictures are rendered in bright acrylics (fire engine red and construction sign yellow prevail) and outlined in appropriately rugged charcoal; their burly cuddliness skews the pages toward younger imaginations. Each machine gets a humanlike expression on its grill (or, at the very least, a pair of googly eyes), and a crew of hardworking, hard-hatted kids and one eager, floppy-eared dog help get the jobs done. Ages 4–8. Author’s agent: Anna Webman, Curtis Brown. (Aug.)
Big service vehicles are always a popular subject in books for young children as is evidenced by the continued popularity of Virginia Lee Burton’s
Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel, originally published in 1939 and still in print to this day. This delightful rhyming story presents information on more than a dozen big machines, including a snowplow, a cherry picker, a street sweeper, an ambulance, a cement mixer, a skid-steer loader, a backhoe, a forklift, and of course the ever-favorite garbage truck. While the text fully explains the work of each of these machines, the captivating acrylic-and-charcoal illustrations show them hard at work under the operation of young girls and boys. A charming floppy-eared dog wearing a hard hat is also found in each picture; locating it should provide a fun activity for youngsters. The final two- page spread asks, “Which truck would you like to be?” and shows youngsters playing with some of the toy versions of the vehicles discussed on the previous pages. Combine this book with Mike Mulligan for a story time that will be a big hit with both boys and girls. Purchase is recommended. Reviewer: Sylvia Firth AGERANGE: Ages 4 to 8.
Children's Literature - Sylvia Firth
PreS-Gr 2—These delightful, finely crafted, informative, fun verses can serve as Common Core exemplar texts while satisfying truck and poetry fans. Each rig's function is described with great care and attention to language with seamless rhymes, alliteration, and assonance gracing the selections. Nothing seems forced about Vestergaard's rhymes; they're smooth and sure, and easy to set to memory: "After the asphalt's dumped and spread/in sticky, long black lines,/the road must cure. You can be sure…/Steamroller's close behind…." About the cherry picker, Vestergaard writes, "The picker pauses in the sky,/plucks its target,/then…/gently, slowly, gracefully, sets it down again," and in a tour-de-force ending: "digger, dozer, dumper, grader/backhoe, roller, excavator/…." Each poem is presented on a spread with lighthearted acrylic and charcoal illustrations that often include a girl and two boys of various hues and a yellow hard-hat-wearing pup, as well as the rigs themselves with hints of personification in their headlight eyes. There are 16 machines in all: garbage truck, forklift, street sweeper, and so on. The cartoon children are depicted operating the machines, but the final illustration reverses the relationship of object to child; suddenly the children are quite big and their trucks are small and handheld. This book is intelligent and informative, with craft, rhythm, great art, and entertainment.—Teresa Pfeifer, The Springfield Renaissance School, Springfield, MA
Rhyming poems introduce children to anthropomorphized trucks of all sorts, as well as the jobs that they do. Adorable multiethnic children are the drivers of these 16 trucks--from construction equipment to city trucks, rescue vehicles and a semi--easily standing in for readers, a point made very clear on the final spread. Varying rhyme schemes and poem lengths help keep readers' attention. For the most part, the rhymes and rhythms work, as in this, from "Cement Mixer": "No time to wait; / he can't sit still. / He has to beg your pardon. / For if he dawdles on the way, / his slushy load will harden." Slonim's trucks each sport an expressive pair of eyes, but the anthropomorphism stops there, at least in the pictures--Vestergaard sometimes takes it too far, as in "Bulldozer": "He's not a bully, either, / although he's big and tough. / He waits his turn, plays well with friends, / and pushes just enough." A few trucks' jobs get short shrift, to mixed effect: "Skid-Steer Loader" focuses on how this truck moves without the typical steering wheel, but "Semi" runs with a royalty analogy and fails to truly impart any knowledge. The acrylic-and-charcoal artwork, set against white backgrounds, keeps the focus on the trucks and the jobs they are doing. While there are many rhyming truck books out there, this stands out for being a collection of poems.
(Picture book/poetry. 3-6)
This book is intelligent and informative, with craft, rhythm, great art, and entertainment.
—School Library Journal (starred review)
Vestergaard (Potty Animals) offers 16 poetic tributes to big machines and trucks that should prove deeply satisfying to young connoisseurs and the grownups who read to them. ... Slonim’s pictures are rendered in bright acrylics (fire engine red and construction sign yellow prevail) and outlined in appropriately rugged charcoal; their burly cuddliness skews the pages toward younger imaginations.
A charming set of rhymes... This is a wonderful addition to the bookshelf of any kid fascinated by big trucks. And who isn't?
—San Antonio Express-News