This weak title, one in an early-reader series that’s part of Scieszka’s Trucktown brand, purports to provide active children with a similarly rambunctious easy-to-read package. Scieszka’s author’s note for the series boasts, “Everything about Trucktown has been built to excite and motivate young readers…This is…a world where kids are inspired to become readers by action stories, and helped to become readers with amazing illustrations and selected vocabulary.” The result falls far short of such claims. Two trucks, Jack and Gabriella, follow a succession of legit and spoof road signs to a party at bulldozer Pete’s garage. Three illustrators, including David Shannon and Loren Long as well as Gordon, collaborated to create Trucktown’s unremarkable, stereotypical visuals. Jack is a sturdy red-and-blue flatbed, while Gabriella’s a pink garbage truck with a flowery monogrammed and a yellow “bow.” Typical visual personification for the vehicles—headlights are eyes; grilles are mouths—and muddy digital execution add little that’s fresh. Also out in June: Zoom! Boom! Bully (ISBN: 978-1-4169-4139-2; PLB: 978-1-4169-4150-7). For emergent readers, more hype than help. (Early reader. 4-6)

Pub Date: June 3, 2008

ISBN: 978-1-4169-4138-5

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Aladdin

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2008

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Another breezy sail past things that go.



From the Everything Goes series

Biggs ferries young viewers past floating fleets in his latest set of bustling cartoon surveys.

The voyage is sandwiched between sequences of big, wordless before and after panels. It begins when a vacationing family drives aboard a Center City ferry. After casting off, it navigates past themed gatherings of working boats and gigantic ships; craft of various sizes and historical periods driven by oars, motors or sails; houseboats and more. It docks in the wake of a climactic double gatefold in an entire harbor full of diverse vessels. Along the way, minidisquisitions on sails and propellers, cargo shipping, submarines, cruise ships and other nautical topics are delivered with plenty of sight gags and side business. Signal flags spell out “fish fry tonight,” and a fishing boat dubbed Archimedes demonstrates buoyancy and displacement, for instance. Biggs adds cutaway views as well as labels, jokes (“How long do you think the trip will take?” “About fifty-six pages”), review questions and occasional selfies to his full but not overstuffed scenes.

Another breezy sail past things that go. (Informational picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 22, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-06-195811-3

Page Count: 56

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Sept. 18, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2013

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An early-reader book to build on.


An accessible, rhyming text drives this story-with-a-twist about a construction site, inviting new readers to hone their emerging skills.

Initial spreads depict a variety of vehicles engaged in digging, scooping, lifting and so on, detailing the activities of a construction site. Varied visual perspectives in the art draw the eyes to the different machines, but they can be disorienting—particularly in the worm’s-eye view on the spread reading “Digger’s teeth bite the ground,” which does not show the “[t]racks skid[ding] around” as indicated by the text. On the other hand, while some readers may wonder why the vehicles’ operators are not seen in the art, this omission is satisfyingly resolved in a long-shot spread that depicts a group of children playing with toy trucks in a sand pile. The vehicles are clearly miniversions of those from prior pages, and it’s refreshing to see both boys and girls and at least one child of color included in the group “working like a team.” From here, the narrative draws the children’s play to a conclusion by book’s end, providing readers with a fictive parallel to their own accomplishments in finishing the book: “Good work, crew!”

An early-reader book to build on. (Early reader. 4-6)

Pub Date: June 25, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-375-96910-2

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: March 27, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2013

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