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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Count on construction die-hards falling in love, but discerning readers would be wise to look elsewhere for their...

DIGGERSAURS

Less ambitious than Chris Gall’s widely known Dinotrux (2009) and sequels, this British import systematically relegates each dinosaur/construction-equipment hybrid to its most logical job.

The title figures are introduced as bigger than both diggers and dinosaurs, and rhyming text and two construction-helmeted kids show just what these creatures are capable of. Each diggersaur has a specific job to do and a distinct sound effect. The dozersaurus moves rocks with a “SCRAAAAPE!!!” while the rollersaurus flattens lumps with a cheery “TOOT TOOT!!” Each diggersaur is numbered, with 12 in all, allowing this to be a counting book on the sly. As the diggersaurs (not all of which dig) perform jobs that regular construction equipment can do, albeit on a larger scale, there is no particular reason why any of them should have dinosaurlike looks other than just ’cause. Peppy computer art tries valiantly to attract attention away from the singularly unoriginal text. “Diggersaurs dig with bites so BIG, / each SCOOP creates a crater. // They’re TOUGH and STRONG / with necks so long— / they’re super EXCAVATORS!” Far more interesting are the two human characters, a white girl and a black boy, that flit about the pictures offering commentary and action. Much of the fun of the book can be found in trying to spot them on every two-page spread.

Count on construction die-hards falling in love, but discerning readers would be wise to look elsewhere for their dino/construction kicks. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: April 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-9848-4779-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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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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