Here’s hoping readers don’t need to learn from Betty’s lesson on their own first days, but Tractor Mac and his friends have...

TRACTOR MAC SCHOOL DAY

From the Tractor Mac series

Betty is a nervous bus who has a tough first day, but with the help of Tractor Mac and friends, she finds the courage to try again.

When Betty drops the last students off at the farm stand, she relates to Tractor Mac and his friends how terrible the day has been: She got lost, forgot some stops, and didn’t use her signals, and the other buses were unkind to her. She doesn’t want to go back. But her friends (both male and female) help build up her confidence by addressing each of her difficulties in turn, giving her the knowledge and practice she needs to be successful the next day. Steers nicely folds in some learning as well, having Betty, who is labeled the “C” bus and is the third to line up (as Sam the ram says, it’s the third letter of the alphabet), think of words that begin with C that will help her succeed. Tractor Mac throws in a final lesson: “If we make mistakes, it’s proof that we’re trying….That’s how we learn.” That may not be true in every case, but it certainly fits this tale. The watercolor-and-pencil illustrations are full of details, especially on the anthropomorphized vehicles, and the expressive farm animals will delight.

Here’s hoping readers don’t need to learn from Betty’s lesson on their own first days, but Tractor Mac and his friends have some good advice for kids to store away for a rainy day. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: June 12, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-374-30635-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2018

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

A quiet, thought-provoking story of environmental change and the power humans have to slow it.

THE OLD BOAT

A multigenerational tale of a boat’s life with a Black family, written by two brothers who loved similar boats.

In the opening spread, a smiling, brown-skinned adult dangles a line from the back of a green-and-white boat while a boy peers eagerly over the side at the sea life. The text never describes years passing, but each page turn reveals the boy’s aging, more urban development on the shore, increasing water pollution, marine-life changes (sea jellies abound on one page), and shifting water levels. Eventually, the boy, now a teenager, steers the boat, and as an adult, he fishes alone but must go farther and farther out to sea to make his catch. One day, the man loses his way, capsizes in a storm, and washes up on a small bay island, with the overturned, sunken boat just offshore. Now a “new sailor” cleans up the land and water with others’ help. The physical similarities between the shipwrecked sailor and the “new sailor” suggest that this is not a new person but one whose near-death experience has led to an epiphany that changes his relationship to water. As the decaying boat becomes a new marine habitat, the sailor teaches the next generation (a child with hair in two Afro puffs) to fish. Focusing primarily on the sea, the book’s earth-toned illustrations, created with hundreds of stamps, carry the compelling plot.

A quiet, thought-provoking story of environmental change and the power humans have to slow it. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-324-00517-9

Page Count: 56

Publisher: Norton Young Readers

Review Posted Online: Dec. 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2021

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Visual fun overrides textual inadequacies, making this an enjoyable read with an inarguably valuable message.

ELBOW GREASE

If it first you don’t succeed, try getting hit by lightning.

The smallest of his four brothers, Elbow Grease is an electric-powered monster truck with big dreams. Each one of his brothers is tougher, faster, smarter, or braver than he is, but at least he’s got enough “gumption” to spare. That comes in handy when he rushes off to join a Grand Prix in a fit of pique. And while in the end he doesn’t win, he does at least finish thanks to a conveniently placed lightning bolt. That inspires the true winner of the race (Elbow Grease’s hero, Big Wheels McGee) to declare that it’s gumption that’s the true mark of a winner. With his emphasis on trying new things, even if you fail, Cena, a professional wrestler and celebrity, earnestly offers a legitimately inspiring message even if his writing borders on the pedestrian. Fortunately McWilliam’s illustrations give a great deal of life, emotion, action, and mud splatters to the middling text. Humans are few and far between, but the trucks’ keeper, Mel the mechanic, is pictured as a brown-skinned woman with glasses.

Visual fun overrides textual inadequacies, making this an enjoyable read with an inarguably valuable message. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 9, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5247-7350-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: July 24, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2018

Did you like this book?

more