Clever fun, swooshing with motion and energy, this latest in the series will keep readers racing their engines for more.

RACE FROM A TO Z

From the Jon Scieszka's Trucktown series

Another in Scieszka’s Trucktown series, this one features a boisterous truck race from A to Z.

“C is for Construction, Curbs and Cones and Crashes! / D is for Dan Dump Truck, who Dumps his Dirt then Dashes!” While not all letters feature such density of alliteration, Scieszka manages to pack quite a lot in. He also takes advantage of the world he’s built to upend some conventions. In many alphabet books, the text observes, Q often stands for “quiet,” but “[i]n Trucktown Q means ‘quite’ ”—as in “QUITE LOUD!” The one letter that seems off track is X: “Look out—X! A Xylophone? No one knows just why scary Big Rig has one.” Since silliness is the name of Scieszka’s game here, that’s OK. Z is for Izzy the ice cream truck, who wins the race. The digital illustrations comically animate each truck with google-eyed faces, expressions and appropriate characteristics: Big Rig sports a scowl, two hornlike exhaust pipes and a fearsome grille (he can play the xylophone all day if he wants); Wrecking Crane Rosie has a pink wrecking ball and an amiable expression. They really rev up the action. The droves of truck fans will love identifying the individual trucks as they race and cheer at the ending.

Clever fun, swooshing with motion and energy, this latest in the series will keep readers racing their engines for more. (Alphabet picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Oct. 21, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4169-4136-1

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 29, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2014

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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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THIS BOOK IS GRAY

A gray character tries to write an all-gray book.

The six primary and secondary colors are building a rainbow, each contributing the hue of their own body, and Gray feels forlorn and left out because rainbows contain no gray. So Gray—who, like the other characters, has a solid, triangular body, a doodle-style face, and stick limbs—sets off alone to create “the GRAYest book ever.” His book inside a book shows a peaceful gray cliff house near a gray sea with gentle whitecaps; his three gray characters—hippo, wolf, kitten—wait for their arc to begin. But then the primaries arrive and call the gray scene “dismal, bleak, and gloomy.” The secondaries show up too, and soon everyone’s overrunning Gray’s creation. When Gray refuses to let White and Black participate, astute readers will note the flaw: White and black (the colors) had already been included in the early all-gray spreads. Ironically, Gray’s book within a book displays calm, passable art while the metabook’s unsubtle illustrations and sloppy design make for cramped and crowded pages that are too busy to hold visual focus. The speech-bubble dialogue’s snappy enough (Blue calls people “dude,” and there are puns). A convoluted moral muddles the core artistic question—whether a whole book can be gray—and instead highlights a trite message about working together.

Low grade. (glossary) (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5420-4340-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Two Lions

Review Posted Online: July 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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