Look to the helpers in this love song to rescue vehicles in cold, remote places.

BIG RIG RESCUE!

Rescue vehicles meet a complex problem with some seriously adult tools.

There’s a wreck on the highway! Snowy conditions have left a semi on its side, the scrap it was hauling spilling out at the rear. Good thing Big Orange is on the job. This tow truck has “14 wheels, a boom, a hook, and….Oh yes. A winch!” But this isn’t a job it can do alone. The driver needs a tanker to drain the semi’s fuel and a second rig called Big Blue to help get that semi in an upright position. That done, a new flatbed will drive away with the trailer, and what’s left will head off to the repair shop. That is, until a patch of black ice makes a new rescue mission necessary. Texture comes primarily in the form of snow on an icy winter’s day. Otherwise, Gall’s art has a Playmobil’s smooth feel, rendering trees as perfect cones and human figures little more than foils to the equipment they wield. (All humans have pale skin, though a couple are slightly browner than the driver of Big Orange.) From the rescue saw through the outriggers to the trailer’s snatch block, the solution to the semi’s problem may prove just as fascinating to adult readers as their truck-loving offspring. Most specialized vocabulary is set in boldface and italicized, but not, maddeningly, that snatch block, nor is it clear what exactly that particular piece of equipment is.

Look to the helpers in this love song to rescue vehicles in cold, remote places. (Picture book. 3-7)

Pub Date: Jan. 5, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-324-01539-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Norton Young Readers

Review Posted Online: Nov. 18, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020

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A sweet reminder that it’s easy to weather a storm with the company and kindness of friends.

GOOD NIGHT, LITTLE BLUE TRUCK

Is it a stormy-night scare or a bedtime book? Both!

Little Blue Truck and his good friend Toad are heading home when a storm lets loose. Before long, their familiar, now very nervous barnyard friends (Goat, Hen, Goose, Cow, Duck, and Pig) squeeze into the garage. Blue explains that “clouds bump and tumble in the sky, / but here inside we’re warm and dry, / and all the thirsty plants below / will get a drink to help them grow!” The friends begin to relax. “Duck said, loud as he could quack it, / ‘THUNDER’S JUST A NOISY RACKET!’ ” In the quiet after the storm, the barnyard friends are sleepy, but the garage is not their home. “ ‘Beep!’ said Blue. ‘Just hop inside. / All aboard for the bedtime ride!’ ” Young readers will settle down for their own bedtimes as Blue and Toad drop each friend at home and bid them a good night before returning to the garage and their own beds. “Blue gave one small sleepy ‘Beep.’ / Then Little Blue Truck fell fast asleep.” Joseph’s rich nighttime-blue illustrations (done “in the style of [series co-creator] Jill McElmurry”) highlight the power of the storm and capture the still serenity that follows. Little Blue Truck has been chugging along since 2008, but there seems to be plenty of gas left in the tank.

A sweet reminder that it’s easy to weather a storm with the company and kindness of friends. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 22, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-328-85213-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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Who ya gonna call? A different snowplow book.

SCOOPER AND DUMPER

Friends don’t let friends expire in snowdrifts.

Convoluted storytelling and confusing art turn a cute premise into a mishmash of a book. Scooper’s a front loader that works in the town salt yard, replenishing the snowplows that arrive. Dumper’s her best friend, more than happy to plow and salt the roads himself. When the big city calls in Dumper to help with a snow squall, he brushes off Scooper’s concerns. Yet slippery roads and a seven-vehicle pileup launch poor Dumper onto his side in a snowbank. Can Scooper overcome fears that she’s too slow and save the day? Following a plot as succinct as this should be a breeze, but the rhyming text obfuscates more than it clarifies. Lines such as, “Dumper’s here— / let’s rock ’n’ roll! / Big city’s callin’ for / some small-town soul” can prove impenetrable. The art of the book matches this confusion, with light-blue Dumper often hard to pick out among other, similarly colored vehicles, particularly in the snowstorm. Speech bubbles, as when the city calls for Scooper’s and Dumper’s help, lead to a great deal of visual confusion. Scooper is also featured sporting long eyelashes and a bow, lest anyone mistake the dithering, frightened truck as anything but female. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11-by-17-inch double-page spreads viewed at 16.8% of actual size.)

Who ya gonna call? A different snowplow book. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Nov. 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5420-9268-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Two Lions

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2020

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