TRUCKS

GIANTS OF THE HIGHWAY

Robbins (Autumn Leaves, 1998, etc.) chooses a bright palette for his hand-colored photographs, painting the cabs of a series of big rigs in eye-catching shades with trailers and backgrounds in paler tints, but many of the shots are taken from such a distance that the look is artificial, without detail or a sense of scale. The author compounds the sense of distance by showing several truckers but not introducing them; although he describes, in brief, the parts of a tractor-trailer and the kinds of loads it can haul, he skips what’s under the hood or on the dashboard. Compared to books such as Hope Irwin Marston’s Big Rigs (1993), David Jefferis’s Giants of the Road (1991), or even Robbins’s own Trucks Of Every Sort (1981), this comes off more as an exercise in artistic technique, with terse accompanying captions, than a portrait gallery leveled at young truck enthusiasts. (Picture book. 6-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-689-82664-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1999

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THE PRAIRIE TRAIN

PLB 0-517-70989-9 In this poetic book from an Irish playwright and Rohmann (The Cinder-Eyed Cats, 1997, etc.), an immigrant child dreams of returning to Ireland, carried across the sea by the train that is actually taking him in the opposite direction, away and over the wide prairie. The train itself is a dreamer, yearning to spring its tracks and sail the oceans; instead, in Rohmann’s accomplished, lapidary paintings, it speeds through waves of grass under immense skies, seeming at once majestic and, with its clean, rounded lines, toy- like. The story is a metaphorical take on the immigrant experience—young Conor accidentally drops out the window the model ship his grandfather had carved as a going-away present but later dreams of hearing the old man promise that “there’s bigger boats waiting for you.” Readers will feel Conor’s poignant sense of being severed from his past, and will understand why he accepts that forward, for the train and for him, is the only direction there is. (Picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-517-70988-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 1999

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AXLE ANNIE

Pulver (Homer and the House Next Door, 1994, etc.) delivers a rambunctious wintry tall tale about how a valiant bus driver, Axle Annie, defeats a dastardly scheme concocted by fellow driver Shifty Rhodes. Annie is famous in her town of Burskyville for her amazing ability to maneuver her bus through any snowstorm. Not even the specter of the towering incline known as Tiger Hill can intimidate her. Thus the Burskyville schools never close, much to the disgruntlement of Shifty, who’d like a snow day now and then. When Shifty conspires with Hale Snow, owner of a local ski resort, to whip up a doozy of a snowstorm on Tiger Hill (with a little help from Hale’s snowmaking machine), it appears that Annie has met her match. However, her generosity in the past to all the stranded motorists is returned when they push her up the hill. With hilarious, over-the-top characters, this satisfyingly outrageous tale will tickle readers’ funny bones. Arnold’s spunky illustrations capture the tongue-in-cheek spirit of the text and his characterization of the curmudgeonly Shifty help make this blustery tale the perfect antidote for the winter doldrums. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-8037-2096-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1999

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