A pleaser for fans of big rigs and disaster scenarios alike.

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EMERGENCY VEHICLES

An international gallery of air, sea, and land firefighting and rescue vehicles, with hinged flaps offering peeks inside each.

Drawn with Biesty’s trademark attention to fine detail and printed on stiff cardboard, the eight featured vehicles include an Australian police car festooned with cameras and other high-tech gear, a NATO submarine rescue pod, a big New York City fireboat, and a British Tamar-class motorized lifeboat. Explanatory labels and small views of the vehicle in action or of other makes with similar jobs surround the large central image. Though the artist apparently can’t resist adding an occasional cutaway view, the flaps are designed to be almost invisible at first glance so that viewers can get a sense of what each vehicle actually looks like before they start delving into insides and distinctive gear. The labeling is sometimes perfunctory—the contents of a helicopter ambulance’s baggage compartment are generically dubbed “Emergency equipment,” and a ground-based ambulance features “privacy windows,” whatever that means—but overall the text adds informative notes about specialized features, life-saving capabilities, power plants, top speeds, and other performance data.

A pleaser for fans of big rigs and disaster scenarios alike. (Informational novelty. 5-7)

Pub Date: June 14, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-7636-7959-0

Page Count: 16

Publisher: Templar/Candlewick

Review Posted Online: May 18, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2015

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A sizable gallery but, overall, a monotonous one.

THE ULTIMATE BOOK OF VEHICLES

FROM AROUND THE WORLD

Fans of trucks, trains, aircraft, and other conveyances large and small will find dozens gathered here, lined up neatly in squads according to function from “Demolition” to “Space Travel.”

Though most of the vehicles are easily identifiable by sight, small labels will clue in readers unfamiliar with specialized monikers like “wheel excavator” or vehicles not found in the United States, such as the colorfully decorated Pakistani bus and a motorized “pooper scooper scooter” from France. Cartoon passengers or other human figures convey a sense of size, and with occasional concessions, the floating, wheeled or winged machines are depicted at least close to relative scale on each spread. But the pleasures of poring over all the transports, earth movers and Earth leavers will pall quickly even for confirmed enthusiasts: So flat and generic are the images that many with similar purposes look like variations on the same shape. Moreover, an (rather skimpy) assortment of jointed arms, sliders, spinners and flaps that lift to provide cutaway views create at best only localized feelings of movement or visual drama. Also, the titular “ultimate” begs the lack of military or (aside from a space shuttle on the final spread) historical vehicles on view.

A sizable gallery but, overall, a monotonous one. (Pop-up informational picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: March 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-2-8480-1942-0

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Twirl/Chronicle

Review Posted Online: Oct. 6, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2014

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A multilayered, endearing treasure of a day.

MY DAY WITH GONG GONG

Spending a day with Gong Gong doesn’t sound like very much fun to May.

Gong Gong doesn’t speak English, and May doesn’t know Chinese. How can they have a good day together? As they stroll through an urban Chinatown, May’s perpetually sanguine maternal grandfather chats with friends and visits shops. At each stop, Cantonese words fly back and forth, many clearly pointed at May, who understands none of it. It’s equally exasperating trying to communicate with Gong Gong in English, and by the time they join a card game in the park with Gong Gong’s friends, May is tired, hungry, and frustrated. But although it seems like Gong Gong hasn’t been attentive so far, when May’s day finally comes to a head, it is clear that he has. First-person text gives glimpses into May’s lively thoughts as they evolve through the day, and Gong Gong’s unchangingly jolly face reflects what could be mistaken for blithe obliviousness but is actually his way of showing love through sharing the people and places of his life. Through adorable illustrations that exude humor and warmth, this portrait of intergenerational affection is also a tribute to life in Chinatown neighborhoods: Street vendors, a busker playing a Chinese violin, a dim sum restaurant, and more all combine to add a distinctive texture. 

A multilayered, endearing treasure of a day. (glossary) (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 8, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-77321-429-0

Page Count: 36

Publisher: Annick Press

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2020

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A picture-book favorite despite minor flaws? That’s a 10-4, good buddy.

TEENY TINY TRUCKS

In McCanna and Frawley’s cheery picture-book debut, miniscule vehicles drive into supersized action.

Accompanied by a bouncy rhyme, several brightly colored trucks rumble through the garden: the lead red-and-blue truck, the more feminine purple truck and the gridlock-loathing aqua truck. Though the color palette and cartoon appearance of the nameless vehicles may seem like a carbon copy of Disney’s Cars (2006), illustrator Frawley has included humorous details for each truck, giving them life beyond their big-screen predecessors. For instance, the red-and-blue truck has jaunty eyebrows created from roof lights, the purple truck’s short bursts of steam look like daisies, and the aqua truck’s expressive eyebrows are actually wiper blades. The illustrations help tell a hilarious story, most notably of a traffic jam featuring a frog, slug and worm who are clearly not amused by the crowded garden path. McCanna similarly handles the text well. The rhythmic pattern is clear, most of the rhyme is spot-on—“Teeny tiny tires. With teeny tiny treads. / Leaving teeny tiny trails between the flower beds”—and the story begs to be read aloud to a group. Typical trucker talk is included in the dialogue—“Breaker breaker, Buddy!” “What’s your twenty, Friend?”—and the lingo is explained in a short glossary at the end of the story. Though the premise is amusing, the proportion of the trucks in relation to their surroundings can be a bit inconsistent. Most images depict the trucks, which are “smaller than a dime,” as being only marginally bigger than ants and bees, yet other images portray the trucks as being much larger—almost half as long as a box of animal crackers. Nevertheless, this delightful story will charm truck-loving children.

A picture-book favorite despite minor flaws? That’s a 10-4, good buddy.

Pub Date: Oct. 15, 2013

ISBN: 978-0989668811

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Little Bahalia Publishing

Review Posted Online: Dec. 5, 2013

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