STE-E-E-E-EAMBOAT A-COMIN’!

Inspired by a passage from Mark Twain’s Life on the Mississippi, Esbaum captures the bustle and commotion attending a steam packet’s arrival in a small river town: “Rubberneckers, / pounding boots, / whiskered geezers, big galoots. / Wheels a-clatter, / choking cloud, / yapping dog, excited crowd.” Focusing on animated faces and burly figures, Rex depicts the hubbub with Norman Rockwell-esque realism, adding the occasional inset close-up. With the title repeated in page-filling, 19th century–style display type for a chorus, this makes a rhythmic, emphatic evocation of a scene from days gone by, its visual volume akin to Judith Heide Gilliland’s exuberant Steamboat! The Story of Captain Blanche Leathers (2000), illus by Holly Meade, though its content is closer to William Anderson’s comparatively restrained River Boy (2003), illus by Dan Andreasen. (afterword, map) (Picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: April 8, 2005

ISBN: 0-374-37236-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2005

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ISAAC THE ICE CREAM TRUCK

Newcomer Santoro’s story of the ice cream truck that pined for a more important role in life suffers from a premise that’s well-worn and still fraying—the person or object that longs to be something “more” in life, only to find out that his or its lot in life is enough, after all. Isaac the ice cream truck envies all the bigger, larger, more important vehicles he encounters (the big wheels are depicted as a rude lot, sullen, surly, and snarling, hardly a group to excite much envy) in a day, most of all the fire trucks and their worthy occupants. When Isaac gets that predictable boost to his self-image—he serves up ice cream to over-heated firefighters after a big blaze—it comes as an unmistakable putdown to the picture-book audience: the children who cherished Isaac—“They would gather around him, laughing and happy”—weren’t reason enough for him to be contented. Santoro equips the tale with a tune of Isaac’s very own, and retro scenes in tropical-hued colored pencil that deftly convey the speed of the trucks with skating, skewed angles. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: May 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-8050-5296-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1999

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CLICKETY CLACK

A train load of wild and wacky animals gets so noisy that the engineer has to shout to get them to quiet down. The little black train picks up yaks, acrobats, a troupe of ducks, and stomping elephants as passengers. But when two mice that are in to fireworks climb aboard, the engineer threatens to stop the whole train. “ ‘Keep it down!’ yells Driver Zach. ‘You’re giving me a headache attack!’ “ Everyone quickly hushes up, and soon, “the only sound you hear, in fact,/is the sound of the wheels on the railroad track. Clickety clack, clickety clack.” The words bounce along to the rhythm of a train on its way, and the swell of the sound effects makes this a joy to read aloud. Spengler’s robust illustrations capture an antic cast of passengers, conveying the action as much through composition as color. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: May 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-670-87946-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1999

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