Another series of board books about trucks hopes to find an audience in a crowded marketplace.
The premise is simple—chunky, rather generic-looking vehicles attend Whizzy Wheels Academy to learn driving skills from their instructor, Rusty, a yellow pickup truck. Like the other vehicles in the class, red tractor Tess sports a smile between her headlights. Rusty has a mustache (maybe to make him look older?). All the trucks have large eyeballs in their windshields—Tess’ are lashed—but no drivers in sight. Tess thinks she already knows everything a tractor needs to know. She wants to go “faster.” She gets stuck in the mud and must be rescued by Rusty and Lenny the loader. This turn of events comes across as more than a bit sexist since Tess is the only female in the truck fleet (or at least the only one with eyelashes). In contrast, Fergus the Fire Engine, publishing simultaneously, gets a gold star from Rusty for rescuing a man from a burning building and putting out the fire, all without help from a firefighter. With two to eight lines of text per page, complicated storylines, and blatant character-education messages, these stories are not ideally suited for very young children and should be regarded as an additional purchase at best for older children desperate for new books about trucks.
These driverless vehicles aren’t quite road ready. (Board book. 2-4)