Smashy Town by Andrea Zimmerman

Smashy Town by Andrea Zimmerman

Smashy Town by Andrea Zimmerman and David Clemesha, illustrated by Dan Yaccarino (9780062910370)

Join Mr. Gilly in his crane with a wrecking ball in this dynamic picture book. Mr. Gilly’s crane is slow moving, but it can do a lot. When he swings the wrecking ball and hits a wall, it goes “Smash! Smash! Smash!” When he hits it again it goes, “Crash! Crash! Crash!” The wall tumbles down. Is he done? No! On goes the demolition, the ball swinging, smashing and crashing. When it is finally finished, Mr. Gilly uses his bulldozer to clear up the mess he made. The new building starts going up as Mr. Gilly heads home to dinner and bed.

This is a picture book just right for toddlers who love trucks and machines. The text is jaunty and great fun to read aloud. It has plenty of rhyming repetition in the smash and crash as well as the repeating question of whether Mr. Gilly is done yet. Get the children you are reading to involved in the crash and smash with claps and stomps, and you have a great finishing book for a story time.

The art by Yaccarino is bold and simple, ensuring that this is great for reading to a crowd of children. The art has the same good humor and merriment as the text, offering a busy urban setting for demolition as well as a final view of a public library being built on the site.

Let this one crash your story time! Appropriate for ages 2-4.

Reviewed from e-galley provided by HarperCollins.

The Old Truck by Jarrett and Jerome Pumphrey

The Old Truck by Jarrett and Jerome Pumphrey

The Old Truck by Jarrett and Jerome Pumphrey (9781324005193)

This picture book celebrates the hard work on a farm, whether you are a human or a truck. The old truck worked hard on the farm hauling things. But it grew tired and unable to be fixed. So it rested near the barn, dreaming of being a boat, a blimp or even a space rover. It got older and older sitting there, weeds growing up around it. Until a new farmer, who had grown up on the farm, decided to try again to fix it. It took a lot of determination and trying, just like farming, but the old truck eventually came to life again, woke up and started working. 

Told in the simplest of phrases, this picture book is really about the illustrations. Done with over 250 handcrafted stamps, the illustrations have a wonderful retro look with modern colors. They show an African-American family on a small family farm, working hard. The little girl goes from being born all the way through to owning the farm herself and having a child of her own. The time process is slow and steady, marked by the growing of the weeds as well. 

Delightfully modern and retro, this picture book is very special. Appropriate for ages 2-4.

Reviewed from library copy.

Review: Good Morning, Snowplow! by Deborah Bruss

Good Morning Snowplow by Deborah Bruss

Good Morning, Snowplow! by Deborah Bruss, illlustrated by Lou Rancher and Steve Johnson (9781338089493)

When the snow starts to fall, a snowplow driver and his dog head out into the night to clear the roads. They do safety checks and get the hopper filled with salt and sand. Then they are off into the dark to clear the snow from the roads. Giant drifts are formed as they plow past while branches grow heavy with snow. When a car goes by too fast and ends up in the ditch, the plow calls dispatch for a tow for them. At the railroad tracks, the plow driver also stops, stepping out of the cab of his truck into into the hush of the night. The train goes by, creating a cloud of white. The driver heads home just as others start to wake and falls asleep in bed as the sun rises.

Bruss captures the quiet beauty of a snowstorm as she tells about the night work of clearing the roads. She writes with a poetic touch, creating dramatic moments in the story like the train going past and the car skidding into the ditch, but also embracing the silent work of the plow and the hush of the storm.

The illustrations are wonderful, offering looks at the big truck that will appeal to youngsters who love heavy machinery but also beautifully capturing the storm. One double-spread in particular has just the right light as the truck goes through town. Anyone living in a northern state will recognize that light and the quiet moment before the plow comes through.

Ideal for winter reading, curl up with this one before being plowed out yourself. Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from copy provided by Scholastic.

Bountiful Board Books

Here are four new board books to enjoy with little ones:

Duck's Ditty by Kenneth Grahame

Duck’s Ditty by Kenneth Grahame (9781486713868)

From the song in The Wind in the Willows, this board book is a clever adaptation of the original that makes it just right for little listeners. The song and the book focus on the ducks dabbling in a pond. The ducks look for food and are very content with their quiet days spent along the riverbank. It’s a quiet book, celebrating contentment and simple pleasures. The book is a larger format of board book than many, making it very appealing. The illustrations have an organic feel, dappled with shade and sun and almost speckled with water drops. A great summer pick. (Reviewed from copy provided by Flowerpot Press.)

Little Truck by Taro Gomi

Little Truck by Taro Gomi (9781452163000)

Little Truck starts driving and is very fast. He passes bigger trucks as he goes. But when he comes to a very big hill, he slows way down and is almost unable to make it all the way up. It just takes a little help from that slower big truck to give him a nudge. Little Truck rushes off again, this time heading into a dark tunnel. But when only the big truck emerges from the dark, what has happened to Little Truck? This board book offers a wheeled version of what it is like to walk with an enthusiastic and energetic toddler. The book has plenty of action, an homage to The Little Engine That Could, and the danger of a dark tunnel. Exactly what little ones will love! (Reviewed from copy provided by Chronicle Books.)

Llamaphones by Janik Coat

Llamaphones by Janik Coat (9781419728273)

I am a big fan of this series and the third entry doesn’t disappoint at all. Here the book focuses on homophones and uses llamas on each page to demonstrate each word. There are lovely surprises inside like fairy sparkles, moving clock hands, and touch-and-feel pages. But it is the humor that carries the book, almost every page worthy of a smile if not a full guffaw. The book has art that is strong and graphic, making it something that would work with a group if you have time for them all to touch the pages. A great concept board book to share. (Reviewed from library copy.)

Wiggles by Claire Zucchelli-Romer

Wiggles by Claire Zucchelli-Romer (9781452164755)

This book offers places for little fingers to explore. It starts with a race track that scoops both pages and then becomes more and more complicated. Fingers dance and tap as the concepts of right and left are taught in a fun way. Fingers spin around spirals, they zigzag and hop, until finally all that is left to do is dance. Great fun to play with, the book teaches colors and even the littlest ones will love reading this with their adult. (Reviewed from copy provided by Chronicle Books.)

 

3 New Friendly Picture Books

Adelaide_s Secret World by Elise Hurst

Adelaide’s Secret World by Elise Hurst (9781524714543)

Originally published in Australia, this picture book features a similar world to Hurst’s Imagine a City, a bustling urban setting filled with animals. Adelaide lives in the city and runs a quiet shop where she makes small models. She spent her days and nights alone, watching others rush past and noting those that were quieter like her. Caught in a sudden rainstorm one day, she sees a Fox that she has noticed earlier drop his book. When she returns the book, she hopes they will connect, but it doesn’t happen that day. Still, Adelaide does not give up and creates an art piece filled with connection and magic that may just make her a new friend. This picture book celebrates quiet people who still want friends and connection. Through the gorgeous glowing full-color paintings, Hurst creates a world for these two quiet animals to live in, one that invites readers in and holds them close. Appropriate for ages 4-6. (Reviewed from e-galley provided by Edelweiss and Knopf Books for Young Readers.)

The Digger and the Flower by Joseph Kuefler

The Digger and the Flower by Joseph Kuefler (9780062424334)

Crane, Dozer and Digger are three big trucks who work hard to build big buildings, roads and bridges. Then one day Digger discovered a tiny flower in the rubble. Digger took care of the flower, watering it, protecting it from the wind and singing to it just before he went to sleep nearby. Soon though, the empty lot that the flower grew in was needed for building. Before Digger could stop him, Dozer cut the flower down. Digger was so sad, but there on the ground were three little seeds. The illustrations have strong graphical elements with shots of color from the trucks and flower. A simple and lovely tale of death and birth, of caring for something you love, this picture book gives a big truck a huge heart. (Reviewed from library copy.)

Kate, Who Tamed the Wind by Liz Garton Scanlon

Kate, Who Tamed the Wind by Liz Garton Scanlon, illustrated by Lee White (9781101934791)

A man lived all alone at the top of a very steep hill where winds blew constantly. The wind blew so much that eventually, the shutters banged and the boards bent, and the wind tipped things over and just kept on blowing. Kate was a little girl who lived below the steep hill. When the man cried out in despair, Kate heard him and had a plan. She thought and thought, realizing that she could not stop the wind from blowing. But she could bring new trees to the man. So up she went, pulling her wagon of trees. The two planted the trees together and time passed, the wind still blew, but eventually the trees softened the wind and their friendship grew along with the trees. This picture book is so delightful. Scanlon uses rhymes, rhythm and repetition to create a story that is jaunty and wonderful to read aloud. She plays with the forms, so it never becomes sing-songy and is constantly surprising. The art is just as sprightly and warm, with a stunningly steep hill and plenty of vexing wind. The solution, provided by a child, incorporates nature and science. Appropriate for ages 3-5. (Reviewed from e-galley provided by Edelweiss and Schwartz & Wade.)

3 Seasonal Picture Books

Good Day, Good Night by Margaret Wise Brown

Good Day, Good Night by Margaret Wise Brown, illustrated by Loren Long (9780062383105)

A little bunny wakes up in the morning and greets the day, saying goodbye to the night. Trees, birds, kittens and more come to life as the day dawns. The day continues and then in the evening, the moon rises. Night begins and the bees and birds and town settle down once more into a quiet night. The poetry here by Brown is ever so lovely, lulling and sweet. It invites both a warm look at waking up but also a snuggly look at night coming. The illustrations by Long create a world of rabbits, a village filled with activity and a glimpse of nature responding to day and night as well. This is a picture book just right for bedtime or morning. Appropriate for ages 2-4. (Reviewed from library copy.)

Small Walt by Elizabeth Verdick

Small Walt by Elizabeth Verdick, illustrated by Marc Rosenthal (9781481448451)

Walt is the smallest snowplow in the city’s fleet, so when the big storm arrives, no one wants to drive him. Soon the parking lot is empty with only Walt left behind. Then Gus arrives and merrily prepares to drive Walt into the storm. Walt works hard into the night to clear bridges and roads, trying to prove that he’s up to the big job. Then he reaches a big hill. They could leave it for a larger truck to handle, but Walt wants to try. He slips and slides all the way up, but getting down could be even worse! This picture book is a snowy riff on The Little Engine that Could, offering a bright red little hero willing to take on big challenges. The tone throughout is friendly and fun. Any little one who enjoys books about trucks will love curling up with this one during snow season. Appropriate for ages 3-6. (Reviewed from copy provided by Simon & Schuster.)

Snow Scene by Richard Jackson

Snow Scene by Richard Jackson, illustrated by Laura Vaccaro Seeger (9781626726802)

Explore a snowy area with this inviting and engaging picture book. With very simple text that asks readers to guess at what is coming next, this book has a freshness that is very appealing. The simple text focuses on speaking directly to the reader, showing different aspects of a snowy day that slowly transitions to spring and then summer, where snow is only on the far mountain top. The art by Seeger has a strong textural element that will have small children running their fingers over the smooth pages. It is rich and inviting, sometimes close up and other times just hinting at what is to come. This seasonal picture book celebrates snow in all of its forms, winter and summer. Appropriate for ages 2-4. (Reviewed from copy provided by Roaring Brook Press.)

Monster Trucks by Anika Denise

monster-trucks-by-anika-denise

Monster Trucks by Anika Denise, illustrated by Nate Wragg (InfoSoup)

A revved up mix of trucks and monsters, this picture book will delight fans of either topic. Monster trucks are ready to race as their engines moan and rumble. There is Frankentruck, jumped alive by his electric cables. Werewolf Truck stops to howl at the moon. Zombie Truck is glowing and green. Ghost Truck appears suddenly out of the shadows. Vampire Truck is on the hunt for everyone’s fuel. As the race begins though, there is an unlikely entry, Little Blue Bus all cute enters the race. Soon the monster trucks are after her and she’s in a race for her life!

Denise writes in engaging rhyme that speeds the book alone, accelerating the pace along with the racing trucks. The addition of the little blue bus is wonderfully refreshing, playing on the horror movie motif and also adding a character that children can relate to. The rhythm of the book is also great fun to read aloud and this one will charm anyone listening with its dynamic subject matter.

Wragg’s illustrations are fabulous. He thoroughly embraces the idea of “monster” trucks and transforms them into real monsters while still making sure they are trucks as well. The headlight eyes are expressive and often evil, the bumper and hood leers are cleverly done, and the lightness of the little bus plays up the twist at the end.

A strong entry in the Halloween book race, this picture book will be adored by truck fans and those looking for a little monster thrill. Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from copy received from HarperCollins.

 

Old MacDonald Had a Truck by Steve Goetz

Old MacDonald Had a Truck by Steve Goetz

Old MacDonald Had a Truck by Steve Goetz, illustrated by Eda Kaban (InfoSoup)

This clever update to the beloved folk song has a focus on large machinery. The book follows the structure of the original song, filled with E-I-E-I-O’s and then inserts a different type of truck or machine in each verse. The Excavator arrives first with a “DIG DIG here and a DIG DIG there.” The front loader scoops, the bulldozer pushes, the motor grader scrapes, the dump truck does a satisfying “dump thump.” Throughout the book, it is clear that they are building something with all of these machines and all is revealed when Old MacDonald and his wife appear in their truck at the end.

This book is very engagingly designed with page turns right before the reveal of the next machine in the book: “And on that farm he had a…” There is a certain delight not only in the surprise of the equipment being shown but also in the noise that that machinery is going to make in the song.

Kaban’s jaunty and modern illustrations are great to see in a farm picture book. The animals on the farm are just as involved as the humans in doing the work, changing into hard hats and racing uniforms as appropriate for each scene. There is near mayhem on most pages, adding a zing of energy to each verse.

Smart, funny and engaging, this is just right for youngsters who enjoy big machines along with a little song. Appropriate for ages 2-4.

Reviewed from copy received from Chronicle Books.

 

Review: Bulldozer’s Big Day by Candace Fleming

Bulldozers Big Day by Candace Fleming

Bulldozer’s Big Day by Candace Fleming, illustrated by Eric Rohmann (InfoSoup)

Bulldozer is very excited as he heads to the construction site one morning. It’s his special day and he wants to invite all of the other bigger trucks to his party. So he asks them to guess what day it is. Digger says that the day is a scooping day and keeps on scooping dirt. Dump Truck says it’s a sifting day. Cement Mixer knows that it’s a stirring day. One after another, the different trucks insist that it’s just a normal day and they are doing what they always do. Bulldozer gets more and more dejected as the other trucks talk to him and is about to leave the construction site entirely when happy whistles start to blow and the trucks reveal their birthday surprise for him.

Fleming charmingly combines two deep loves of small children: trucks and birthdays. She engages just enough with each of the trucks, allowing young vehicle lovers time to enjoy each truck and what they do on a construction site. Children will feel for Bulldozer as his attempts to talk about his party are foiled by each truck. The pacing is well done and leads up to a greatly satisfying ending.

Rohmann’s thick-lined illustrations work particularly well here. His Bulldozer character reads as young and jaunty as he flies over the construction area without touching the ground. The other trucks are solid and dependable. They come off as very friendly but also busy, rather like parents who are distracted but kind. Rohmann presents the birthday reveal on one double page spread that is very joyful and lots of fun. Expect a cheer of joy from your listening audience.

Get this into the hands of toddlers who like trucks and who may be approaching a birthday of their own. Appropriate for ages 2-4.

Reviewed from copy received from Atheneum Books for Young Readers.