Young navigation enthusiasts, from bathtub ships’ captains to ocean-cruiser wannabes, will enjoy this voyage.

READ REVIEW

BOATS FLOAT!

Ahoy, maties!

As in her Trucks Roll! (2007) and Planes Fly! (2013), Lyon and her co-author celebrate a ubiquitous, well-loved form of transport in verse and launch it along on young readers’ imaginations. Numerous boats of all kinds and sizes, from different cultures and parts of the world and used for a variety of purposes, including play and habitation, are introduced here. Young readers will be awash in vessels plying waterways from rivers to lakes, ponds to bathtubs, and pools to oceans. Front and back endpapers feature a floating parade, and the colorful digital illustrations of the various boats and their environs showcase many shades of watery blue and exude spirited energy. The staunchest of landlubbers will yearn to set sail; one can almost hear the gently lapping waves. Overall, the verses are jaunty, though the rhymes and rhythms are inconsistent, sometimes even a bit clunky. Children will appreciate learning nifty new seafaring terms such as “poop deck,” “head,” “bilibilis,” “wherries,” “coracles,” and “dinghies,” all italicized in the text, as they picture themselves at the helm of any of the boats floating on these pages. In some illustrations, however, it’s not always clear to which boats certain terms refer, so parental sailing expertise may be required.

Young navigation enthusiasts, from bathtub ships’ captains to ocean-cruiser wannabes, will enjoy this voyage. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-4814-0380-1

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: June 29, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2015

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Visual fun overrides textual inadequacies, making this an enjoyable read with an inarguably valuable message.

ELBOW GREASE

If it first you don’t succeed, try getting hit by lightning.

The smallest of his four brothers, Elbow Grease is an electric-powered monster truck with big dreams. Each one of his brothers is tougher, faster, smarter, or braver than he is, but at least he’s got enough “gumption” to spare. That comes in handy when he rushes off to join a Grand Prix in a fit of pique. And while in the end he doesn’t win, he does at least finish thanks to a conveniently placed lightning bolt. That inspires the true winner of the race (Elbow Grease’s hero, Big Wheels McGee) to declare that it’s gumption that’s the true mark of a winner. With his emphasis on trying new things, even if you fail, Cena, a professional wrestler and celebrity, earnestly offers a legitimately inspiring message even if his writing borders on the pedestrian. Fortunately McWilliam’s illustrations give a great deal of life, emotion, action, and mud splatters to the middling text. Humans are few and far between, but the trucks’ keeper, Mel the mechanic, is pictured as a brown-skinned woman with glasses.

Visual fun overrides textual inadequacies, making this an enjoyable read with an inarguably valuable message. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 9, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5247-7350-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: July 24, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2018

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Slight and contrived.

LITTLE TACO TRUCK

A little orange food truck parks in the same place every day, bringing tacos to hungry construction workers—till one morning, a falafel truck takes his spot.

Miss Falafel then brings by more of her friends, crowding out the taco truck. Little Taco Truck whines and cries, but after four days of being shut out by the bigger trucks, he finally takes the initiative. He spends the night in his former parking space, defending his territory when the other trucks arrive. The rest immediately apologize, and after some creative maneuvering, everyone fits—even the newly arrived noodle truck. Valentine’s naïve call for cooperation glosses over the very real problem of urban gentrification represented by the flood of bigger and better-equipped trucks taking over the neighborhood. When the taco truck is the only game in town, the food line consists of hard-hatted construction workers. Then, as falafel, arepa, gelato, hot dog, and gumbo trucks set up shop, professionals and hipsters start showing up. (All the customers are depicted as animals.) The author also inadvertently equates tacos with a lack of sophistication. “ ‘Hola, Miss Fal…Fal…’ Little Taco Truck tried to sound out the words on the side of the other truck.” Sadly, the truck sells Americanized crisp-shelled tacos. Even the glossary ignores the culinary versatility and cultural authenticity of the soft taco with this oversimplified and inaccurate definition: “A crispy Mexican corn pancake folded or rolled around a filling of meat, beans, and cheese.”

Slight and contrived. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: April 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6585-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade/Random

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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