Build up storytime collections with this pick.

BUILDERS AND BREAKERS

A visual feast for construction-zone fans.

Endpapers designed to look like blueprints, along with detailed background art depicting buildings of various architectural styles at different stages of construction, invite readers to pore over each part of this finely crafted picture book. A frontmatter illustration depicts a man wearing a hard hat and kissing a woman goodbye. Their children play in the background, and when she realizes he’s left his lunchbox, she sends them out to get it to him. Unfortunately, the dad is so focused on getting to work as one of the eponymous builders that he’s oblivious to his children’s pursuit. It’s a bit jarring to see the small children traipsing about scenes of demolition and construction as the builders and breakers, all dressed in safety gear, go about their work. But Light’s loose style, the depiction of complete, underground dinosaur skeletons in a vertical cross-section of a digging scene, and then pictures of the kids joining their dad and other workers for break time atop a lofty beam inject enough whimsy to make the children’s exploits seem fanciful rather than dangerous. The latter scene is reminiscent of the famous 1932 black-and-white photograph Lunch Atop a Skyscraper, though it, like all other illustrations, includes rich gouache color. The family seems to be an interracial one, with a dad of color and a mom who presents white; the construction workers are racially diverse, and some appear to be women.

Build up storytime collections with this pick. (Picture book. 2-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 9, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-7636-9872-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Aug. 14, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2018

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A sweet reminder that it’s easy to weather a storm with the company and kindness of friends.

GOOD NIGHT, LITTLE BLUE TRUCK

Is it a stormy-night scare or a bedtime book? Both!

Little Blue Truck and his good friend Toad are heading home when a storm lets loose. Before long, their familiar, now very nervous barnyard friends (Goat, Hen, Goose, Cow, Duck, and Pig) squeeze into the garage. Blue explains that “clouds bump and tumble in the sky, / but here inside we’re warm and dry, / and all the thirsty plants below / will get a drink to help them grow!” The friends begin to relax. “Duck said, loud as he could quack it, / ‘THUNDER’S JUST A NOISY RACKET!’ ” In the quiet after the storm, the barnyard friends are sleepy, but the garage is not their home. “ ‘Beep!’ said Blue. ‘Just hop inside. / All aboard for the bedtime ride!’ ” Young readers will settle down for their own bedtimes as Blue and Toad drop each friend at home and bid them a good night before returning to the garage and their own beds. “Blue gave one small sleepy ‘Beep.’ / Then Little Blue Truck fell fast asleep.” Joseph’s rich nighttime-blue illustrations (done “in the style of [series co-creator] Jill McElmurry”) highlight the power of the storm and capture the still serenity that follows. Little Blue Truck has been chugging along since 2008, but there seems to be plenty of gas left in the tank.

A sweet reminder that it’s easy to weather a storm with the company and kindness of friends. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 22, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-328-85213-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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Who ya gonna call? A different snowplow book.

SCOOPER AND DUMPER

Friends don’t let friends expire in snowdrifts.

Convoluted storytelling and confusing art turn a cute premise into a mishmash of a book. Scooper’s a front loader that works in the town salt yard, replenishing the snowplows that arrive. Dumper’s her best friend, more than happy to plow and salt the roads himself. When the big city calls in Dumper to help with a snow squall, he brushes off Scooper’s concerns. Yet slippery roads and a seven-vehicle pileup launch poor Dumper onto his side in a snowbank. Can Scooper overcome fears that she’s too slow and save the day? Following a plot as succinct as this should be a breeze, but the rhyming text obfuscates more than it clarifies. Lines such as, “Dumper’s here— / let’s rock ’n’ roll! / Big city’s callin’ for / some small-town soul” can prove impenetrable. The art of the book matches this confusion, with light-blue Dumper often hard to pick out among other, similarly colored vehicles, particularly in the snowstorm. Speech bubbles, as when the city calls for Scooper’s and Dumper’s help, lead to a great deal of visual confusion. Scooper is also featured sporting long eyelashes and a bow, lest anyone mistake the dithering, frightened truck as anything but female. (This book was reviewed digitally with 11-by-17-inch double-page spreads viewed at 16.8% of actual size.)

Who ya gonna call? A different snowplow book. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Nov. 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5420-9268-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Two Lions

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2020

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