Tutu, torches, and tenacity don't add up to a simple, ordinary story.
Readers meet tutu-clad Karen, an “extremely cute animal” building a sand castle, when bully Skyler appears, claiming, “This is MY sandbox and I say: NO STUPID SAND CASTLES!” He proceeds to stomp, smash, and flatten the castle and walks away laughing, leaving Karen in tears. Karen’s friends—mostly nameless, also identified as extremely cute, and many sporting clichéd bows and dresses—announce that they’ll help Karen build a bigger sand castle. Skyler then brings his friends, Mike and Trent, to destroy the now-improved structure. This happens a third time, to be followed by a red spread showcasing infuriated friends above the message: “Being...extremely cute...doesn’t mean…you can’t get...EXTREMELY MAD!” At this point, Karen brings on the titular heavy machinery, including a bulldozer, heavy-lift helicopter, forklift, and welding torches. The result? Circus tents, roller coasters, water slides, a Ferris wheel, bumper boats, carousels, and more entertainment. Gordon generously uses bright colors, and characters’ emotions are expressive. A favorite wordless spread features Karen, in her tutu, wearing a welding mask and operating a blowtorch atop a beamed structure. Unfortunately, though, far too much of the heavy work is done by Joshua, the only other named “cute animal,” while those in feminine garb watch adoringly.
While readers may appreciate the messages of overcoming bullying and granting forgiveness, the story is hampered by cringe-inducing stereotypes. (Picture book. 4-8)