Night Light by Nicholas Blechman
Count from one to ten in this picture book all about lights at night. The book begins with a black page and just one light shining through from a die cut to the page beyond. Turn the page and you see that one light is a train. Keep turning and you start counting more and more lights, each attached to a different vehicle. Some of the pages have clues so that you can guess what sort of vehicle it is. This is a book perfect for small children to start to count and ideal for children who love trucks, planes and trains.
Blechman keeps his writing very simple. The real draw of the book is the clever use of die cuts to show just the lights before you turn the page. The blackness of the page also adds to the drama and suspense very nicely. The book is printed on heavier pages, making it very friendly for toddler hands.
A simple and engaging book for young truck lovers that is a mix of counting and guessing game. Appropriate for ages 1-3.
Truck Stop by Anne Rockwell, illustrated by Melissa Iwai
Every morning the truck stop has to open for business. A boy and his family own the truck stop and get there early in the morning before the sun has come up. The boy squeezes the orange juice while his parents prep the other breakfast foods. Soon the trucks start arriving. The boy knows all of the regulars and his parents know their orders by heart. There is Eighteen-Wheeler who wants all of his tires checked. Milk Tank and Maisie arrive next for a sweet breakfast of coffee and doughnuts. The man with the moving van wants pancakes. But where is Green Gus the old pickup truck? More trucks arrive, but still no one has seen him. It’s not until the little boy gets on the school bus that they figure out what has happened to Gus.
Rockwell tells a story that is a fine mix of family, food and trucks. Children will enjoy seeing how a restaurant runs and also the warmth with which regulars are remembered and served. Still, it is the trucks that will have this book off of the shelves and into little hands. It is good to see more than just a list of different types of trucks and instead have a book that can be read aloud as a story as well. Even better, there is a little mystery at the end about Gus that makes it all the more fun to read.
Iwai’s illustrations are done in cut paper collages. The types of paper add a richness to the images, combining textures from textiles, slick painted papers, and lots of patterns. The result are pictures that are colorful and a pleasure to look at closely.
A solid book, this will be a welcome bedtime addition for any family with a truck-loving child as well as a choice pick for story times. Appropriate for ages 3-5.
Reviewed from copy received from Viking.
Red Car, Red Bus by Susan Steggall
Turn to the first page of this picture book and you will see people waiting at a bus stop. Another page turn has them aboard the bus and only two words: “Red bus.” The next page has a red car join the red bus and readers will see two people dashing for the bus stop. By the time the bus reaches its next stop, the page is filled not only with a yellow van, yellow car, the red car and the red bus, but the people running for the bus have dropped their teddy bear. As the pages turn, the road gets more crowded with vehicles and it becomes all the more fun to figure out what the story is on the side of the road. The only words in the book describe the colors of the vehicles and name the vehicles themselves, otherwise it is more of a wordless book as the complicated action takes place in pictures only.
Steggall has created a picture book that really plays with the reader. At first, I thought it was going to be a very simple color and vehicle book for toddlers, but it is something much more. The intricate cut paper illustrations tell the story along the roadside, as each page turn moves the reader further down the road. There is a wonderful sense of motion to the entire book. The vehicles appear in patterns with colors and sorts of vehicles.
This is a delight of a read, surprising in its depth and yet fully appropriate for the youngest reader who enjoys cars and trucks. This is one to linger over and discuss, talking about the story that is told wordlessly, perfect for curling up with your special little one. Appropriate for ages 2-4.
Reviewed from library copy.
Everything Goes in the Air by Brian Biggs
Brian Biggs has several new books out which is great news for youngsters who love cars, trucks and airplanes. Everything Goes in the Air takes Henry and his family on an airplane ride. Readers get to visit a bustling airport, where they can search for lost babies. From vintage airplanes to modern ones, we learn about the different parts of a place and the various types they come in. Modern airport security is explained, then the book turns to helicopters and hot air balloons. Just before takeoff, children get to see inside the cockpit and marvel at the crowded airspace. Then it’s up, up and away!
Biggs’ crowded pages show the hustle and hurry of an airport. His friendly art and seek-and-find activities will keep children busy exploring the pages. Information is given in small bits, mostly through conversations that are shown in cartoon bubbles. This is a marvelously fun and exciting way to explore airplanes and airports.
A great pick for a plane ride, or to help prepare children for an upcoming flight, this book has such detailed illustrations that it is best shared with just one child at a time. Appropriate for ages 3-5.
Everything Goes: 123 Beep Beep Beep!: A Counting Book by Brian Biggs
Everything Goes: Stop! Go!: A Book of Opposites by Brian Biggs
These two board books simplify the busy style of Biggs into books that are more appropriate for toddlers. Here the bright colors and cartoon-style illustrations pop. The counting book goes up to ten, each page offering a different sort of vehicle to count. They range from RVs to busses. The opposites book again uses vehicles to show things like dirty and clean, old and new, ending with stop and go.
Very young children who enjoy cars, trucks and other vehicles will love these board books. Expect the basic text to be accompanied with lots of motor sounds from the audience! Appropriate for ages 1-3.
All items reviewed from copies received from Balzer + Bray.
Machines Go to Work in the City by William Low
This is an inventive look at machines, combining it with large flaps to open and questions to engage. Low looks at one machine after another that works in the city and then asks a question about it. The questions are not simple either, this is not a book that talks down to its young audience. Instead you have to think a bit. Do the garbage men go home after picking up the garbage? Can the crane operator still work when the building grows taller than the crane? Is the airplane ready to leave when the passengers are on board and the baggage is loaded? Little listeners get to turn the flap to learn the answer and the reason. The answer is given with a quick explanation and then the book moves on to the next machine. It’s just enough information for a preschooler to really enjoy.
Low has created a brisk pace here, never lingering too long and offering exactly the right amount of information. This makes the book very readable, something that can be happily shared at bedtime unlike a lot of nonfiction vehicle books. More information on each machine is offered at the end of the book, complete with labeled parts. Those are pages that young truck fans will linger on.
Low’s illustrations are richly colored. The painted textures add to them with some pages having individual bricks done solely in texture alone. At other times, the sleek metal stands out.
A great pick for your own little machine fan or for public library shelves. Don’t let the flaps scare you off, they are large and just as durable as a regular page. Appropriate for ages 3-5.
Reviewed from library copy.
Demolition by Sally Sutton, illustrated by Brian Lovelock
There has been a movement recently to create some very original and fresh construction and truck books. Before that, it was a bit of a desert of naming big trucks, telling how they work, and leaving it at that. This book is one of the best of those new, fresh books about construction vehicles. In rhyming lines, it tells the story of the demolition of a building. It begins with the people getting ready, moves to the wrecking ball, then the excavator and its tearing jaws. There are stone crushers and wood shredders. Trucks are loaded and clear the site, then they start to build something. Something with slides, monkey bars, and plenty of fun.
The rhyme and rhythm of this picture book really make it work. It has a bouncy rhythm that makes the book ideal for toddlers. The rhyming lines finish on each set of pages with noisy words that bring the work site to life. Add to that the appeal of knocking something down and then building something new, and you have brought a toddler dream to life. The illustrations have a great texture to them that evokes the dust and dirt of demolition. They avoid being too cartoon-like and instead use different vistas on the project to allow young readers to see more than they could of in real life.
One of the most appealing construction or destruction books around, this belongs in every library collection. It will also be appreciated by librarians and teachers who have long been looking for construction books worth sharing in a story time setting. Appropriate for ages 2-4.
Reviewed from library copy.
Little Bird by Germano Zullo, illustrated by Albertine
Released April 1, 2012.
Winner of the 2011 Prix Sorcieres for illustration, the French Caldecott medal, this book is an impressive example of the magic of illustration and only a few select words. A man drives his red truck up to the edge of a cliff and opens the back, releasing several amazing birds. When he glances into the truck, he sees one bird left behind. The man tries to tell the bird where to head and that it should fly, but the bird just looks at him. The two sit together and the man shares his sandwich with the little bird. The man shows the bird again where to head and how to fly, landing on his face. The bird spreads its wings and flies away, joining the other birds the man had let go. The man watches the bird fly off, heads back into his truck and drives off. What seems like the end of the story is actually just the beginning.
Zullo has chosen his words carefully, letting the story really be told via the illustrations. The words offer a touch of guidance to the depth of the work, the deeper meaning of the simple story. They speak to the importance of noticing small things and how those small things are the true treasures in life. It’s a message that will speak to children and adults alike, in very different ways.
Albertine’s art is wonderfully bright and filled with playful moments. From the sunny yellow ground, the robin’s egg blue sky and the red truck, there is plenty of zing in these pictures. As the story is told in the illustrations, the relationship between bird and man is also shown just in pictures. The looks, the moments of connection, the departure, all add up to moments that lead to the magical conclusion.
An impressive picture book that is modern, fresh and will have readers looking for tiny treasures in their lives too. Appropriate for ages 5-adult.
Reviewed from copy received from Enchanted Lion Books.
Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site by Sherri Duskey Rinker & Tom Lichtenheld
This is an ideal bedtime book for all those truck-loving toddlers and preschoolers! The book starts with the trucks all working hard during the day, then it’s sunset and time for the trucks to end their work days. Each truck has its work explained and then its bedtime ritual too. Crane Truck folds his boom in, holds his teddy, and dangles a nightlight. Cement Mixer takes a bath then falls asleep under a blanket dreaming of twirling again. Bulldozer curls into his soft dirt bed. The book ends with a drowsy, quiet tone that is perfect for getting children’s wheels to stop turning.
Told in rhyming verse, the book has two tones that work well together. There is the daytime activity part for each truck that bustles along. Then that changes as they ready for bed to a quieter, slower tone. The rhymes and rhythm are done skillfully so they read aloud really well.
The illustrations have a great friendliness to them and a humor that adds a great touch to the book. Often the small touches are not mentioned in the text, like Crane’s teddy bear. But these are the moments that will draw children even further into the story, softening the harshness of trucks into a bedtime story.
If there’s a truck fan in your family, this is a great pick for a bedtime story. Drive it to the top of your pile of story time truck reads as well. Appropriate for ages 2-4.
Reviewed from library copy.
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Monkey Truck by Michael Slack
Whenever there is trouble in the jungle, Monkey Truck races to the rescue! He saves small lizards from crushing elephant feet. He rescues big hippos from a shrinking and muddy water hole. He grinds gears to get the job done with his truck bed filled to bursting. He is Monkey Truck! Fueled by bananas and always ready to go, he is the hero of the jungle.
This book grew on me once I got into the story. It has a frenetic pace that toddler will enjoy immensely. It also obviously has its own screwball humor from the premise alone! That humor is really what makes this book work so well. From fart jokes to bouncing stacks of muddy hippos, there is plenty of laughter to be found here.
The book has been printed on thicker pages, making it an ideal transition book for toddlers from board books to picture books. This is clearly a book that is meant for very young children who just might demand why they can’t have a monkey truck of their very own!
If you do a toddler story time at your library or work with a toddler group, this is a book that will really work when shared out loud. Be prepared to mash your animal sounds with engine noises and your young listeners will be sure to enjoy it! Appropriate for ages 1-3.
Reviewed from copy received from Henry Holt.
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The Trucker by Barbara Samuels
Ever since he was very little, Leo was a trucker. He loved trucks, playing with them, reading books about them, and was distracted by all of the trucks outside when he went on a walk with his mother. Unfortunately, while he was looking at a toy fire truck in a store window, his mother was looking at something else. And that’s how they got a cat, that they named Lola. Though Leo’s mother got Lola a brush, a cat bed, and a toy, she was much more interested in Leo and his trucks. Leo ignored her and tried to play without her. Until one day when the toy fire trucks were trying to stop a blaze, Lola jumped in and saved Leo’s stuffed bunny. Leo made Lola his deputy and from then on out they were truckers together.
The mix of pet and trucks here works well. It is a truck book that has more of a story than most, giving lots of colorful truck eye-candy but also mixing in the frustration of having a bothersome pet. Samuels nicely mixes in visual humor (even a scene in the bathroom for gleeful giggles) with the humor of the text. Her art is bright and vibrant, set against white backgrounds that really make it pop visually.
This is a truck book that can be happily used at a story time, something that can be hard to find! Happily it can be enjoyed by children who are not truck-crazy as well. Appropriate for ages 3-5.
Reviewed from copy received from Farrar Straus Giroux.