This illustrated children’s book for ages 4 to 8, based on a true story, focuses on the renovation of a beloved 1921 truck.
On a New Zealand farm in the 1970s, Old Truck loves his work carting soil, hay, and kids. But Old Truck is from 1921, a Model 10 Republic, and is showing his age. Blue Truck, a newer model, often has to rescue Old Truck when he won’t start or gets stuck in the mud. Dad decides one day it’s time to buy a new truck, but the children—Margery, Jane, Catherine, Jennifer, and John—protest. Old Truck is special. Dad takes Catherine and Jennifer to look at trucks, but they don’t like any of them. Dad decides, somewhat grumpily, to manage with Blue Truck. Meanwhile, Old Truck is put away, getting rusty and dusty in the shed. When John returns home, he decides to fix up Old Truck, even ordering and making special parts. He discovers “that Old Truck was the only restored truck of his kind left in the whole world.” Kids, friends, relatives, and neighbors line up to ride the revitalized Old Truck, cheering to see him chug away. Once neglected, he’s now “the happiest truck in the whole wide world.” Photos show the real Old Truck, which now travels to vintage rallies around New Zealand. Somervell and Fern (A Very Greedy Tale, 2016, etc.) again collaborate to tell a charming New Zealand–based yarn. Somervell’s language is simple but effective in conveying Old Truck’s vehicular personality, including farting out of the exhaust pipe and graunching the gears. The father’s agreeing to manage without a new truck subtly underscores the family’s affection and respect for one another. Similarly, John’s taking on the big task of refurbishing Old Truck says volumes about his dedication, all for no greater reward than making others happy. Fern’s beautiful, expressive watercolor images have a childlike feel while illustrating details of farm life and sometimes providing silent commentary: visiting the new trucks for sale, the family dog lifts a leg to pee on a tire, nicely revealing the kids’ emotions.
A pleasing tale that shows the joy in restoring a farm stalwart.