As the old truck stays with its family, this charming book will stay with readers.

THE OLD TRUCK

The eponymous old truck serves as the vehicle for a quiet story about farm life and hard work.

Brothers Jarrett and Jerome Pumphrey created over 250 stamps to create the striking illustrations that give the book a distinct look and echo the message of hard work and persistence pouring from it. The declarative simplicity of the text is perfect for an emerging reader without betraying the strength of the story. As the book describes how hardworking the truck is, readers see the smiling, brown-skinned parents and daughter, wordlessly at work. The family can be seen loading produce onto the truck, carrying baskets back into the barn, feeding chickens, and fixing the truck. The placement of the sun on the horizon line demonstrates how long the family works each day. At night, the daughter dreams: "The old truck sailed the seas, / braved the skies, / and chased the stars." As the truck ages, so does the family; most notably, readers see the girl grow into a woman. Now “the new farmer,” she tows the truck out of tall grass. She works long into the night to repair it. But dreams and persistence pay off: “VROOOOOOOM!!” This heartfelt celebration of resilience in the face of change, with a determined Black woman at its center, packs a powerful punch.

As the old truck stays with its family, this charming book will stay with readers. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 7, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-324-00519-3

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Norton Young Readers

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2019

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A fair choice, but it may need some support to really blast off.

TINY LITTLE ROCKET

This rocket hopes to take its readers on a birthday blast—but there may or may not be enough fuel.

Once a year, a one-seat rocket shoots out from Earth. Why? To reveal a special congratulatory banner for a once-a-year event. The second-person narration puts readers in the pilot’s seat and, through a (mostly) ballad-stanza rhyme scheme (abcb), sends them on a journey toward the sun, past meteors, and into the Kuiper belt. The final pages include additional information on how birthdays are measured against the Earth’s rotations around the sun. Collingridge aims for the stars with this title, and he mostly succeeds. The rhyme scheme flows smoothly, which will make listeners happy, but the illustrations (possibly a combination of paint with digital enhancements) may leave the viewers feeling a little cold. The pilot is seen only with a 1960s-style fishbowl helmet that completely obscures the face, gender, and race by reflecting the interior of the rocket ship. This may allow readers/listeners to picture themselves in the role, but it also may divest them of any emotional connection to the story. The last pages—the backside of a triple-gatefold spread—label the planets and include Pluto. While Pluto is correctly labeled as a dwarf planet, it’s an unusual choice to include it but not the other dwarfs: Ceres, Eris, etc. The illustration also neglects to include the asteroid belt or any of the solar system’s moons.

A fair choice, but it may need some support to really blast off. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: July 31, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-338-18949-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: David Fickling/Phoenix/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: April 16, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2018

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A delight for car and truck fans young and old.

TOW TRUCK JOE

From the Tow Truck Joe series

Don’t cry over spilled milk. Add crumbled cookies and freeze to make Cookie Crunch ice cream with your friends instead.

Tow truck Joe and his pup, Patch, roam Drivedale honking “Hello!” and helping vehicles (all are anthropomorphic) in trouble. They charge batteries and replace flat tires until “SCREECH! BANG! CRUNCH! CRASH” An accident! It appears the milk truck was going too fast and hit a cart full of cookies. What a mess! Traffic is at a standstill, but Joe, Patch, and all the other trucks help out. The cement mixer is ready. The bulldozer cleans up the cookie crumbles, and the grocery truck supplies sugar and vanilla. Patch adds milk from the milk truck, and the mixer stirs everything up. An ice cream truck offers to freeze the mixture. Voila! Cookie Crunch ice cream! Slowly and carefully, all the vehicles follow Joe and Patch to the garage to end the busy day with scoops of their delicious ice cream creation. Related in an easy, conversational rhyme with clear and bright illustrations, this story is a good read-aloud, but it’s an even better one-on-one read. Children and adults need to pore over the written puns in the illustrations. Signs such as “BIG WHEEL COOKIES—THEY TASTE WHEELY GREAT” and “KNEAD FOR SPEED BAKERY” are too good to miss.

A delight for car and truck fans young and old. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-358-05312-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: May 12, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2019

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