FIRE TRUCK

S°s (Starry Messenger, 1996, etc.) celebrates a universally cherished childhood favorite—the fire truck—in simple, clean lines and smooth planes of color. Matt loves fire trucks so much that one day he wakes up to find himself metamorphosed into one. Matt-the-truck has a heroic morning putting out fires and saving victims—a house cat and a beloved teddy bear. Matt-the-truck is transformed back into a little boy by the irresistible lure of pancakes. “The fire truck parked at the kitchen table—and Matt ate his breakfast.” Included within the book is a gate-fold illustration that opens up to reveal a large rendering of Matt in his fully equipped truck state; the three-page spread ingeniously incorporates a counting lesson, from one driver to ten boots. Understanding of the scope of youthful imagination, S°s fulfills one of a child’s dearest fantasies, in crisp black line drawings on a white background with brilliant splashes of red, and only occasional bits of gold, brown, and blue-gray. The spartan application of color makes the intensely red fire trucks leap off the pages, perfect for point-and-name games and for inspiring similar flights of the imagination. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-688-15878-1

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1998

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A welcome addition to autumnal storytelling—and to tales of traditional enemies overcoming their history.

THE SCARECROW

Ferry and the Fans portray a popular seasonal character’s unlikely friendship.

Initially, the protagonist is shown in his solitary world: “Scarecrow stands alone and scares / the fox and deer, / the mice and crows. / It’s all he does. It’s all he knows.” His presence is effective; the animals stay outside the fenced-in fields, but the omniscient narrator laments the character’s lack of friends or places to go. Everything changes when a baby crow falls nearby. Breaking his pole so he can bend, the scarecrow picks it up, placing the creature in the bib of his overalls while singing a lullaby. Both abandon natural tendencies until the crow learns to fly—and thus departs. The aabb rhyme scheme flows reasonably well, propelling the narrative through fall, winter, and spring, when the mature crow returns with a mate to build a nest in the overalls bib that once was his home. The Fan brothers capture the emotional tenor of the seasons and the main character in their panoramic pencil, ballpoint, and digital compositions. Particularly poignant is the close-up of the scarecrow’s burlap face, his stitched mouth and leaf-rimmed head conveying such sadness after his companion goes. Some adults may wonder why the scarecrow seems to have only partial agency, but children will be tuned into the problem, gratified by the resolution.

A welcome addition to autumnal storytelling—and to tales of traditional enemies overcoming their history. (Picture book. 4-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-06-247576-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Harper/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2019

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COUNT DOWN TO FALL

Beginning with the number ten, Hawk’s verses count down different tree leaves/seeds in all their fall glory. “Nine dogwood leaves / bright shining scarlet, / drifting down, down, down— / like the tail of a comet.” While the text is problematic—there are rhyme and scansion issues and one page does not name the tree featured at all—Neidigh’s illustrations do not disappoint. Detailed borders include close-up views of the bark of each tree while corners depict the whole tree, the leaves (both summer and fall colors) and the seeds. Woodland animals round out each spread, in which readers can count the leaves. Most are very clear, but extra objects may occasionally confuse readers. Backmatter gives readers a chance to test their knowledge of plant parts, categorize leaves according to their shape, match summer and fall leaves and learn how people and animals use some of the trees featured in the text. The visual details make this a delight to the eye, but unfortunately the verses are not music to the ear. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: July 10, 2009

ISBN: 978-1-934359-94-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Sylvan Dell

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2009

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