Day: October 16, 2012

Review: Machines Go to Work in the City by William Low

machines go to work in the city

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.

Review: The Town Mouse and the Country Mouse by Helen Ward

town mouse and country mouse

The Town Mouse and the Country Mouse by Helen Ward

Never has there been such a beautiful example of this Aesop Fable.  This is the classic tale of the county mouse who is happy in the simplicity of the country until his cousin from the city comes to visit with his claims of the wonders there.  The country mouse goes to visit, discovering things like elevators, electric lights, and enormous banquets.  But when they are both chased by a city pet, in this case a little dog, the country mouse realizes that while the city is fast-moving and filled with bright lights, he misses his quiet life in the country.  Merrily, the book ends with an image of the city mouse asleep in a wheel of expensive cheese.

It is the illustrations here that make this such a noteworthy book.  Ward takes special care in depicting the beauty of the countryside and the country life.  She moves between seasons, the apple tree decked in pink blossoms and then hearty with ripe apples.  The two mice are shown without any little clothes or any anthropomorphic touches.  Instead these are two sleek and life-like creatures. 

The illustrations are sumptuous, rich and superb.  They invite you to explore the county and the city and see beauty in both.  They bring you into the cozy winter nest of the country mouse.  They linger on the many blossoms of the country landscape.  They focus you close in from a mouse point of view. 

Highly recommended, this book belongs in library collections for both its beauty and the simple way it is written.  Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from library copy.