A sizable gallery but, overall, a monotonous one.

READ REVIEW

THE ULTIMATE BOOK OF VEHICLES

FROM AROUND THE WORLD

Fans of trucks, trains, aircraft, and other conveyances large and small will find dozens gathered here, lined up neatly in squads according to function from “Demolition” to “Space Travel.”

Though most of the vehicles are easily identifiable by sight, small labels will clue in readers unfamiliar with specialized monikers like “wheel excavator” or vehicles not found in the United States, such as the colorfully decorated Pakistani bus and a motorized “pooper scooper scooter” from France. Cartoon passengers or other human figures convey a sense of size, and with occasional concessions, the floating, wheeled or winged machines are depicted at least close to relative scale on each spread. But the pleasures of poring over all the transports, earth movers and Earth leavers will pall quickly even for confirmed enthusiasts: So flat and generic are the images that many with similar purposes look like variations on the same shape. Moreover, an (rather skimpy) assortment of jointed arms, sliders, spinners and flaps that lift to provide cutaway views create at best only localized feelings of movement or visual drama. Also, the titular “ultimate” begs the lack of military or (aside from a space shuttle on the final spread) historical vehicles on view.

A sizable gallery but, overall, a monotonous one. (Pop-up informational picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: March 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-2-8480-1942-0

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Twirl/Chronicle

Review Posted Online: Oct. 6, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2014

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A picture-book favorite despite minor flaws? That’s a 10-4, good buddy.

TEENY TINY TRUCKS

In McCanna and Frawley’s cheery picture-book debut, miniscule vehicles drive into supersized action.

Accompanied by a bouncy rhyme, several brightly colored trucks rumble through the garden: the lead red-and-blue truck, the more feminine purple truck and the gridlock-loathing aqua truck. Though the color palette and cartoon appearance of the nameless vehicles may seem like a carbon copy of Disney’s Cars (2006), illustrator Frawley has included humorous details for each truck, giving them life beyond their big-screen predecessors. For instance, the red-and-blue truck has jaunty eyebrows created from roof lights, the purple truck’s short bursts of steam look like daisies, and the aqua truck’s expressive eyebrows are actually wiper blades. The illustrations help tell a hilarious story, most notably of a traffic jam featuring a frog, slug and worm who are clearly not amused by the crowded garden path. McCanna similarly handles the text well. The rhythmic pattern is clear, most of the rhyme is spot-on—“Teeny tiny tires. With teeny tiny treads. / Leaving teeny tiny trails between the flower beds”—and the story begs to be read aloud to a group. Typical trucker talk is included in the dialogue—“Breaker breaker, Buddy!” “What’s your twenty, Friend?”—and the lingo is explained in a short glossary at the end of the story. Though the premise is amusing, the proportion of the trucks in relation to their surroundings can be a bit inconsistent. Most images depict the trucks, which are “smaller than a dime,” as being only marginally bigger than ants and bees, yet other images portray the trucks as being much larger—almost half as long as a box of animal crackers. Nevertheless, this delightful story will charm truck-loving children.

A picture-book favorite despite minor flaws? That’s a 10-4, good buddy.

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 2013

ISBN: 978-0989668811

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Little Bahalia Publishing

Review Posted Online: Dec. 5, 2013

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Enthralling, uplifting: a celebration of everyday heroes’ journeys in the quest for education and learning.

MY FIRST DAY

A child braves floodwaters and embarks on an adventure.

The Mekong Delta is home to the young Vietnamese narrator anticipating a big day: “I wake up with the sun creeping into the sky and wait for tide and time to bring to me my little open boat.” Venturing on a familiar trip—yet alone for the first time—the child stands and paddles into the waves, steadied by a backpack, cautious confidence, and words of parental encouragement. Panoramic illustrations with the feel of animation create a magical cinematic effect that renders scenery and motion through multiple perspectives, capturing atmospheric weather patterns and magnificent tropical flora and fauna—some highly dangerous and threatening. The self-aware text draws astute metaphoric parallels between the landscape and the classroom the child journeys to. Anxiety over “a thousand” prying eyes and “scary” places dissipates as courage and knowledge prompt the child to “turn the unfamiliar into family...write my name across the blackboard of the river.” Sumptuously textured landscapes detailing lotuses and inky swells create vivid contrasts while reminding viewers of the ecosystem’s fragile balance. This solo voyage concludes as the child approaches the school on dry land, greeted by friendly water buffalo “galumphing near the shore” and other children, many with gap-toothed smiles that match the narrator’s. The book closes with further information about the Mekong River and its delta. (This book was reviewed digitally with 10-by-20-inch double-page spreads viewed at actual size.)

Enthralling, uplifting: a celebration of everyday heroes’ journeys in the quest for education and learning. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Feb. 16, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-593-30626-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Make Me a World

Review Posted Online: Dec. 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2021

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