THAT'S HOW!

Bold, brightly colored graphics, big, brushed letters and patent silliness catch the eye but perhaps not the imagination. A little girl asks a little boy, “How does a truck work?” The boy says, “Let me think,” as they both regard a shiny red panel truck. On the next page, a silhouette cutaway of the truck is shown, with a supine lion turning the gears with his toes. “That’s how!” he says. The girl responds, “Wow!” And so it goes. The girl asks a question, the boy thinks about it, the visual shows some very odd animals providing the engine for a pink airplane (birds with fuchsia feet), a steamroller (a parrot tickling some highly amused bears), a train (a kitchen full of monkeys). Finally, the girl asks about a bicycle, but before he can answer, she climbs aboard, puts on her helmet and rides off. “Wow!” he says. Ink drawings and digital shapes make for a smooth, cartoony surface. It all feels sexist and gender-divisive, even though the girl makes the final—correct—point. Young readers might admire the boy’s powers of invention (the pink bunny manipulating the green lizard inside the backhoe is really quite something), but they might also wonder both why he pontificates so and why she bothers to ask. A nifty concept doesn't quite make it in execution. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: May 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-06-201963-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Review Posted Online: April 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2011

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A sizable gallery but, overall, a monotonous one.

THE ULTIMATE BOOK OF VEHICLES

FROM AROUND THE WORLD

Fans of trucks, trains, aircraft, and other conveyances large and small will find dozens gathered here, lined up neatly in squads according to function from “Demolition” to “Space Travel.”

Though most of the vehicles are easily identifiable by sight, small labels will clue in readers unfamiliar with specialized monikers like “wheel excavator” or vehicles not found in the United States, such as the colorfully decorated Pakistani bus and a motorized “pooper scooper scooter” from France. Cartoon passengers or other human figures convey a sense of size, and with occasional concessions, the floating, wheeled or winged machines are depicted at least close to relative scale on each spread. But the pleasures of poring over all the transports, earth movers and Earth leavers will pall quickly even for confirmed enthusiasts: So flat and generic are the images that many with similar purposes look like variations on the same shape. Moreover, an (rather skimpy) assortment of jointed arms, sliders, spinners and flaps that lift to provide cutaway views create at best only localized feelings of movement or visual drama. Also, the titular “ultimate” begs the lack of military or (aside from a space shuttle on the final spread) historical vehicles on view.

A sizable gallery but, overall, a monotonous one. (Pop-up informational picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: March 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-2-8480-1942-0

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Twirl/Chronicle

Review Posted Online: Oct. 6, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2014

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A picture-book favorite despite minor flaws? That’s a 10-4, good buddy.

TEENY TINY TRUCKS

In McCanna and Frawley’s cheery picture-book debut, miniscule vehicles drive into supersized action.

Accompanied by a bouncy rhyme, several brightly colored trucks rumble through the garden: the lead red-and-blue truck, the more feminine purple truck and the gridlock-loathing aqua truck. Though the color palette and cartoon appearance of the nameless vehicles may seem like a carbon copy of Disney’s Cars (2006), illustrator Frawley has included humorous details for each truck, giving them life beyond their big-screen predecessors. For instance, the red-and-blue truck has jaunty eyebrows created from roof lights, the purple truck’s short bursts of steam look like daisies, and the aqua truck’s expressive eyebrows are actually wiper blades. The illustrations help tell a hilarious story, most notably of a traffic jam featuring a frog, slug and worm who are clearly not amused by the crowded garden path. McCanna similarly handles the text well. The rhythmic pattern is clear, most of the rhyme is spot-on—“Teeny tiny tires. With teeny tiny treads. / Leaving teeny tiny trails between the flower beds”—and the story begs to be read aloud to a group. Typical trucker talk is included in the dialogue—“Breaker breaker, Buddy!” “What’s your twenty, Friend?”—and the lingo is explained in a short glossary at the end of the story. Though the premise is amusing, the proportion of the trucks in relation to their surroundings can be a bit inconsistent. Most images depict the trucks, which are “smaller than a dime,” as being only marginally bigger than ants and bees, yet other images portray the trucks as being much larger—almost half as long as a box of animal crackers. Nevertheless, this delightful story will charm truck-loving children.

A picture-book favorite despite minor flaws? That’s a 10-4, good buddy.

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 2013

ISBN: 978-0989668811

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Little Bahalia Publishing

Review Posted Online: Dec. 5, 2013

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