McToad likes Thursdays, the day he mows Tiny Island.
Every Thursday, he rides the mower out of the shed onto his big truck and puts the mower onto a train with a forklift. The train takes the mower to the airport, where it is carried by conveyor belt to an airplane. The mower is flown to the other side of the island, where a baggage buggy takes it to a helicopter that transports it to a dock. There, it is lowered by crane onto a boat, then sailed to the island. The island is truly tiny; in fact the mower takes up most of the small lawn that sits atop the island. The task at hand is swiftly completed (after a sip of lemonade for McToad and an oil refill for the tractor), and an arrowed diagram shows the mower returning home by the same route in reverse. The book jacket proclaims this “a transportation tale,” and it certainly covers a dizzying array of modes, but at a time when the scientific community—and even the pope—is issuing ever sterner warnings about climate change, it’s hard not to see McToad’s weekly odyssey as anything but an unnecessary journey and a profligate consumption of resources. The black smoke issuing from McToad’s tractor chimney throughout as well as the patent ludicrousness of the entire endeavor only serves to emphasize this.
Hendrix’s richly detailed, brightly colored spreads make the book visually engaging, but on the whole it feels out of sync with evolving sensibilities and awareness. (Picture book. 3-5)