Truck enthusiasts will wheely groove on this story of a truck Superman.

MIGHTY TRUCK

From the Mighty Truck series

An adventure-loving truck discovers an alter ego when his boss demands a trip through the car wash.

Clarence is an old-fashioned–looking pickup truck with wooden rails, but his most obvious characteristic is that he’s filthy. Even an imminent thunderstorm won’t clean him off, but a lightning strike may have something to do with his transformation—when he drives away, he is gleaming, feeling “really wheely powerful,” and unrecognizable to his co-workers. Indeed, the shiny red monster truck with “MT” emblazoned on the side and huge tires is a far cry from the dirty pickup of the beginning. But truck lovers won’t care, as underdog Clarence proceeds to rescue truck-friend Bruno from the mud, a cat from a tree, and a line of traffic from a beam teetering on a high-rise under construction, each daring superhero feat cementing his new identity as Mighty Truck. By the end, he’s dirty again, but he won’t share his secret—who wants to miss all the fun that comes with getting dirty when getting clean is “only a wash away”? Cummings’ Photoshop illustrations emphasize textures: dirt in all its forms—the dirt covering the trucks, the dirt in the tire treads, mud—the sheen of windows and chrome, the roughness of asphalt. Readers may remark on the unfairness of Clarence’s having to wash when Bruno is just as dirty, though.

Truck enthusiasts will wheely groove on this story of a truck Superman. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: March 29, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-06-234478-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Jan. 9, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2016

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A fair choice, but it may need some support to really blast off.

TINY LITTLE ROCKET

This rocket hopes to take its readers on a birthday blast—but there may or may not be enough fuel.

Once a year, a one-seat rocket shoots out from Earth. Why? To reveal a special congratulatory banner for a once-a-year event. The second-person narration puts readers in the pilot’s seat and, through a (mostly) ballad-stanza rhyme scheme (abcb), sends them on a journey toward the sun, past meteors, and into the Kuiper belt. The final pages include additional information on how birthdays are measured against the Earth’s rotations around the sun. Collingridge aims for the stars with this title, and he mostly succeeds. The rhyme scheme flows smoothly, which will make listeners happy, but the illustrations (possibly a combination of paint with digital enhancements) may leave the viewers feeling a little cold. The pilot is seen only with a 1960s-style fishbowl helmet that completely obscures the face, gender, and race by reflecting the interior of the rocket ship. This may allow readers/listeners to picture themselves in the role, but it also may divest them of any emotional connection to the story. The last pages—the backside of a triple-gatefold spread—label the planets and include Pluto. While Pluto is correctly labeled as a dwarf planet, it’s an unusual choice to include it but not the other dwarfs: Ceres, Eris, etc. The illustration also neglects to include the asteroid belt or any of the solar system’s moons.

A fair choice, but it may need some support to really blast off. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: July 31, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-338-18949-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: David Fickling/Phoenix/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: April 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2018

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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

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