A pleasing tale that shows the joy in restoring a farm stalwart.

READ REVIEW

THE NEW OLD TRUCK

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.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Tales From The Farm Publications

Review Posted Online: April 13, 2017

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Good fun with a monster of a cliffhanger.

THE LAST KIDS ON EARTH AND THE SKELETON ROAD

From the Last Kids on Earth series , Vol. 6

The monster-fighting gang from Wakefield departs on a post-apocalyptic road trip.

In this sixth installment of the heavily illustrated, Netflix-adapted series, quirky Jack Sullivan and his friends June, Quint, and Dirk finally leave their creature-ridden town in search of the ultimate baddie, Thrull, who previously deceived them. The quartet takes their tricked-out ride (an armored RV named Bad Mama) onto the open road (with Jack’s Zombie Squad in tow) to find the Outpost, where they believe a certain monster will be able to give them the location of the evil Tower where they believe Thrull now resides. Of course, the journey is littered with all kinds of nightmarish beasts and pitfalls (including an epic water park battle and slime-dripping baby monster), but the kids persist, armed with their endless gadgets and quick thinking. As the group races toward Thrull, the action culminates with an achingly tantalizing cliffhanger; expect audible groans and vociferous demands for the next installment. Fans of this series will revel in this fast-paced escapade with its recognizable black-and-white illustrations and trademark humor. Readers new to the series or those who are only familiar with the animated show may be a bit put off by this later volume that relies heavily on its own language of monsters and weapons. Jack, June, and Dirk are light-skinned; Quint is dark-skinned.

Good fun with a monster of a cliffhanger. (Graphic fiction. 8-13)

Pub Date: Sept. 15, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-984835-34-5

Page Count: 250

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2020

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Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs.

WRECKING BALL

From the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series , Vol. 14

The Heffley family’s house undergoes a disastrous attempt at home improvement.

When Great Aunt Reba dies, she leaves some money to the family. Greg’s mom calls a family meeting to determine what to do with their share, proposing home improvements and then overruling the family’s cartoonish wish lists and instead pushing for an addition to the kitchen. Before bringing in the construction crew, the Heffleys attempt to do minor maintenance and repairs themselves—during which Greg fails at the work in various slapstick scenes. Once the professionals are brought in, the problems keep getting worse: angry neighbors, terrifying problems in walls, and—most serious—civil permitting issues that put the kibosh on what work’s been done. Left with only enough inheritance to patch and repair the exterior of the house—and with the school’s dismal standardized test scores as a final straw—Greg’s mom steers the family toward moving, opening up house-hunting and house-selling storylines (and devastating loyal Rowley, who doesn’t want to lose his best friend). While Greg’s positive about the move, he’s not completely uncaring about Rowley’s action. (And of course, Greg himself is not as unaffected as he wishes.) The gags include effectively placed callbacks to seemingly incidental events (the “stress lizard” brought in on testing day is particularly funny) and a lampoon of after-school-special–style problem books. Just when it seems that the Heffleys really will move, a new sequence of chaotic trouble and property destruction heralds a return to the status quo. Whew.

Readers can still rely on this series to bring laughs. (Graphic/fiction hybrid. 8-12)

Pub Date: Nov. 5, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4197-3903-3

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Amulet/Abrams

Review Posted Online: Nov. 19, 2019

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