Who says girls can’t learn to be plumbers? In this picture book by debut author (and heating, ventilation, air conditioning engineer) Foley, young Tillie shows she’s got what it takes to be a plumber’s assistant.
When Tillie brushes her teeth one morning, the sink overflows. She and her grandmother have to figure out how to solve the problem while Tillie’s grandfather and father are off camping. Grandma’s solution? Bring in the pros. After P-Trap the Plumber arrives, Tillie jumps to help him; what follows is a step-by-step retelling of how to unclog a drain. While that may not sound like promising material for a kids’ book, Foley adds excitement by showing Tillie’s eagerness to help—which sometimes leads to mistakes. (“A wave of water splashed out of the sink and bounced off of the mirror and onto Tillie and P-Trap. What a mess!”) Overall, Tillie makes a great helper, and the story leaves the impression that she might be able to fix the next clog herself. P-Trap, as a mentor, makes sure to mention that he works with women plumbers so that Tillie knows that her gender is no bar to her dream. The spare illustrations include a small mouse on almost every page, making an excellent search-and-find feature for lap readers. Tillie’s shirt randomly changes color, as do the bathroom walls, but that stylistic choice is unlikely to bother the tale’s target audience of preschoolers. While there’s not much action here, the solid story of a girl learning how to do the things normally reserved for Daddy and Grandpa may be a winner among girls—and a good reminder for their brothers, too. The text may be too dense for newly independent readers, but patient lap readers will be rewarded.
This unusual topic for the storytime set makes for a surprisingly good tale.