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Wide-eyed and grinning, 20 cars line up for a race—-and they’re off, burning rubber, swerving into walls and each other, shedding parts, crawling off the track with tongues hanging out. “Which car’s first across the line?/Hurrah! It’s driver number 9!” In illustrations created first on a computer, Murphy puts a wonderful range of expressions and vivid jellybean colors on his autos, but leaves crews, spectators, and vehicles floating just above the ground, and despite tidy sets of tire tracks and boldface “sound effects,” the cars have little sense of motion. While the book has some value for preschoolers as practice in number recognition, the static illustrations put it outside a winner’s circle that would include Thacher Hurd’s Zoom City (p. 197), Tres Seymour’s Smash-Up Crash-Up Derby (1995), or Donald Crews’s Bicycle Race (1985). (Picture book. 4-5)

Pub Date: March 1, 1998

ISBN: 1-890515-07-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Turtle Point

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1998

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A brief, rhythmic text combines lullaby with concept book. An African-American baby and parent are shown in the illustrations. “Wrap your arms around me, make a circle, hold me tight. I’ll take you spinning through the air, as daylight turns to night.” The cuddled child is in pajamas, the moon is “like a night-light hanging high,” while the stars and child’s face and features are more examples of the lovingly conveyed main theme. The illustrations, portholes in the center of increasingly darker borders as night descends, show the parent and child with round objects—a goldfish bowl, a round mirror, etc. Engel (The Shelf- Paper Jungle, 1994, etc.) uses watercolors to portray whimsical moonscapes and a starry sky in pleasing and memorable ways. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: March 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-7614-5040-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Marshall Cavendish

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1999

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Following in the path of Fire Truck (1998), S°s transports young listeners to a realm they love, the world of trucks. Matt’s mother asks him to put his trucks away. He does so, accompanied by gerunds on every truck’s talent: digging, plowing, pushing, rolling. With each turn of the page, the text—running sideways up the right margin of the spread—and the trucks get a little larger. Soon, the text is fairly barking, while Matt manfully works the vehicles—he has become their size or they have become his. Toward the end of the book, in a gate-fold illustration, Matt is seated in an enormous crane, hoisting one of his socks; on the next page, his room is tidy, the toy trucks are stowed, and restored to their size, just as Matt is restored to his. As a last, obliging touch, the action moves outside, where Matt and his mother are off on an errand; their neighborhood is a hotbed of truck action. The world that S°s creates is wonderfully inviting, not least as a result of his artwork, with their simple, expressive lines and minimal use of color. (Picture book. 2-5)

Pub Date: April 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-688-16276-2

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1999

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