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)