Hyperbole taken to the utmost thanks to the bottomless well of transportation enthusiasm.

ON THE GO AWESOME

Dedicated to the notion that there is always something more awesome to attempt.

A kid lets their mind wander to its natural limits. If, for example, “trains are cool,” and if “watching a train is very cool,” and if “riding on a train is even cooler,” then “conducting a train through the mountains” must be “CHUGGA CHUGGA AWESOME!” This pattern is replicated with a wide variety of other heavy-duty machines. Operating an excavator? “DIG INTO AWESOME!” Piloting a plane? “PREPARE FOR AWESOME!” The child, who has pale skin, like parents and sibling, and straight, dark hair, imagines operating subway trains, monster trucks, boats, and rockets. (Background characters are racially diverse; the woman-of-color co-pilot is a nice touch.) Finally the kid looks out the window of a camper. “Campers are cool. Wait! Are campers cool?” They sure are, and this is one family adventure the kid can actually take outside of the imagination. Detlefsen’s text delights in drilling into just how much fun each of the activities featured could be. Meanwhile, the colorful, cartoon artwork meticulously works to render every “awesome” encounter in its natural, amazing extreme. From the blinding array of instruments in the cockpit of an airplane to the sight of tiny cars being crushed beneath monster wheels, there’s a jolt of adrenaline cooked into every page. The transportation-obsessed have found a new tale to pore over. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11-by-17-inch double-page spreads viewed at 30.5% of actual size.)

Hyperbole taken to the utmost thanks to the bottomless well of transportation enthusiasm. (Picture books. 2-4)

Pub Date: Nov. 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-5234-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2020

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Who ya gonna call? A different snowplow book.

SCOOPER AND DUMPER

Friends don’t let friends expire in snowdrifts.

Convoluted storytelling and confusing art turn a cute premise into a mishmash of a book. Scooper’s a front loader that works in the town salt yard, replenishing the snowplows that arrive. Dumper’s her best friend, more than happy to plow and salt the roads himself. When the big city calls in Dumper to help with a snow squall, he brushes off Scooper’s concerns. Yet slippery roads and a seven-vehicle pileup launch poor Dumper onto his side in a snowbank. Can Scooper overcome fears that she’s too slow and save the day? Following a plot as succinct as this should be a breeze, but the rhyming text obfuscates more than it clarifies. Lines such as, “Dumper’s here— / let’s rock ’n’ roll! / Big city’s callin’ for / some small-town soul” can prove impenetrable. The art of the book matches this confusion, with light-blue Dumper often hard to pick out among other, similarly colored vehicles, particularly in the snowstorm. Speech bubbles, as when the city calls for Scooper’s and Dumper’s help, lead to a great deal of visual confusion. Scooper is also featured sporting long eyelashes and a bow, lest anyone mistake the dithering, frightened truck as anything but female. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11-by-17-inch double-page spreads viewed at 16.8% of actual size.)

Who ya gonna call? A different snowplow book. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Nov. 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5420-9268-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Two Lions

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2020

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Count on construction die-hards falling in love, but discerning readers would be wise to look elsewhere for their...

DIGGERSAURS

Less ambitious than Chris Gall’s widely known Dinotrux (2009) and sequels, this British import systematically relegates each dinosaur/construction-equipment hybrid to its most logical job.

The title figures are introduced as bigger than both diggers and dinosaurs, and rhyming text and two construction-helmeted kids show just what these creatures are capable of. Each diggersaur has a specific job to do and a distinct sound effect. The dozersaurus moves rocks with a “SCRAAAAPE!!!” while the rollersaurus flattens lumps with a cheery “TOOT TOOT!!” Each diggersaur is numbered, with 12 in all, allowing this to be a counting book on the sly. As the diggersaurs (not all of which dig) perform jobs that regular construction equipment can do, albeit on a larger scale, there is no particular reason why any of them should have dinosaurlike looks other than just ’cause. Peppy computer art tries valiantly to attract attention away from the singularly unoriginal text. “Diggersaurs dig with bites so BIG, / each SCOOP creates a crater. // They’re TOUGH and STRONG / with necks so long— / they’re super EXCAVATORS!” Far more interesting are the two human characters, a white girl and a black boy, that flit about the pictures offering commentary and action. Much of the fun of the book can be found in trying to spot them on every two-page spread.

Count on construction die-hards falling in love, but discerning readers would be wise to look elsewhere for their dino/construction kicks. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: April 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-9848-4779-9

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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