A market-driven economy lesson, with friendship squeezed in, too.

SCOOP THE ICE CREAM TRUCK

An old ice cream truck is feeling left out among the newer, flashier models.

Scoop has been selling vanilla ice cream for many, many summers. But things are changing. Now, as he winds his way down his familiar route, he passes trendy sushi restaurants and organic grocery stores. There are newer ice cream trucks on the street as well: gaudy ones, with bright colors and exclusive flavors. “Nobody wanted a little vanilla cone anymore.” Dejected, Scoop drives to a quiet street to rest. He dreams of woodlands and mountains far away from the changing neighborhood, until a red ball bounces off his side. A tiny tot with pale skin and stubby brown pigtails wants to play. Scoop decides to call her Spunky, gives her a cone, and they have fun. But the other trucks hear their laughter and swoop in, not wanting to miss an untapped customer base. The little girl is dazzled by the explosion of options. Scoop decides he needs an upgrade. He goes to the Dodgy Wheels Garage and comes out with flashing lights, more flavors, and a new name: Scoop Supreme. But his old frame can’t handle all of the changes and he slowly whistles to a stop. In a slightly baffling conclusion, since Spunky’s adults are never present, Scoop and the tot find a new way to be together in the mountains. Keeler’s paintings have a gloppy abandon that suits their sticky subject.

A market-driven economy lesson, with friendship squeezed in, too. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: April 3, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5107-0631-6

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sky Pony Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2018

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Visual fun overrides textual inadequacies, making this an enjoyable read with an inarguably valuable message.

ELBOW GREASE

If it first you don’t succeed, try getting hit by lightning.

The smallest of his four brothers, Elbow Grease is an electric-powered monster truck with big dreams. Each one of his brothers is tougher, faster, smarter, or braver than he is, but at least he’s got enough “gumption” to spare. That comes in handy when he rushes off to join a Grand Prix in a fit of pique. And while in the end he doesn’t win, he does at least finish thanks to a conveniently placed lightning bolt. That inspires the true winner of the race (Elbow Grease’s hero, Big Wheels McGee) to declare that it’s gumption that’s the true mark of a winner. With his emphasis on trying new things, even if you fail, Cena, a professional wrestler and celebrity, earnestly offers a legitimately inspiring message even if his writing borders on the pedestrian. Fortunately McWilliam’s illustrations give a great deal of life, emotion, action, and mud splatters to the middling text. Humans are few and far between, but the trucks’ keeper, Mel the mechanic, is pictured as a brown-skinned woman with glasses.

Visual fun overrides textual inadequacies, making this an enjoyable read with an inarguably valuable message. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 9, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5247-7350-2

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: July 24, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2018

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Slight and contrived.

LITTLE TACO TRUCK

A little orange food truck parks in the same place every day, bringing tacos to hungry construction workers—till one morning, a falafel truck takes his spot.

Miss Falafel then brings by more of her friends, crowding out the taco truck. Little Taco Truck whines and cries, but after four days of being shut out by the bigger trucks, he finally takes the initiative. He spends the night in his former parking space, defending his territory when the other trucks arrive. The rest immediately apologize, and after some creative maneuvering, everyone fits—even the newly arrived noodle truck. Valentine’s naïve call for cooperation glosses over the very real problem of urban gentrification represented by the flood of bigger and better-equipped trucks taking over the neighborhood. When the taco truck is the only game in town, the food line consists of hard-hatted construction workers. Then, as falafel, arepa, gelato, hot dog, and gumbo trucks set up shop, professionals and hipsters start showing up. (All the customers are depicted as animals.) The author also inadvertently equates tacos with a lack of sophistication. “ ‘Hola, Miss Fal…Fal…’ Little Taco Truck tried to sound out the words on the side of the other truck.” Sadly, the truck sells Americanized crisp-shelled tacos. Even the glossary ignores the culinary versatility and cultural authenticity of the soft taco with this oversimplified and inaccurate definition: “A crispy Mexican corn pancake folded or rolled around a filling of meat, beans, and cheese.”

Slight and contrived. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: April 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5247-6585-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade/Random

Review Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2019

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