In short, pithy poems, Lillegard handily distills the essences of 34 different things that go. Verses celebrate kid-powered contraptions like the skateboard and red wagon, as well as an agreeably wide array of the engine-driven machines that fascinate preschoolers. Most poems are sprightly quatrains with predictable rhymes, such as “Airplane”: “Up in the air / the metal bird sings, / Look at me. / I’ve got wings!” The two slightly longer entries, “Pickup Truck” and “Freight Train,” scan less well, presenting minor challenges when read aloud. Gorbachev’s full-bleed watercolor-and-ink illustrations are sure to captivate young children. Reminiscent of Richard Scarry’s kid-appealing spreads, double-page scenes teem with a bright mix of busy, anthropomorphized animals, clearly drawn vehicles and funny details for children and grown-ups to discover together. Commendably, every creature on wheels, whether mouse, bunny or goat, sports a helmet, with cutouts for ears as appropriate. Well-fueled fun. (Picture book/poetry. 3-6)

Pub Date: Nov. 14, 2006

ISBN: 0-375-82387-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2006

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Engines won’t be the only thing roaring their approval when this book hits storytime.


Who needs sanity when you’ve got family?

The title character of Elbow Grease (2018) and his family of Demolition Derby trucks return to face an all-new competitor. Once again, ’Bo is feeling inadequate next to his fan-favorite brothers. Despite Mel the Mechanic’s encouragement—he’s “the best at getting better”—he wants to be noticed. But instead, he notices someone unavoidable. Motozilla, the monster machine that turns trucks “into crunch sandwiches,” is currently undefeated. Trouble is, you’d need a truck with an array of skills to take him down. Thinking fast, ’Bo makes the wild and somewhat improbable suggestion that he and his brothers join together to form a single supertruck. Will it be enough to take down this bully? Quips, jests, and teamwork are the name of the game as pro wrestler Cena improves on his writing in this second outing, which demonstrates that individual glory falls in the face of concentrated cooperation. Rollicking, radical art portrays the battle in all its gritty glory, mud and twisted metal galore. Human crowds show a diverse range of races and genders, and the trucks’ keeper, Mel, has light-brown skin and wears glasses.

Engines won’t be the only thing roaring their approval when this book hits storytime. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Oct. 8, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5247-7353-3

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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Captioned by Prince’s very brief, loosely rhymed commentary (“Wheels whiz, wheels whir. / Wheels carry travelers.”), Laroche’s expert paint-and-cut-paper collages, on a variety of page layouts, depict all sorts of people using wheels of all sizes at work and play. For “Wheels help to make us go,” they are attached to wagon, wheelchair, stroller, car and bike. They can be spinning on playgrounds (“wheels spin”) and windmills; propelling a helicopter (“Wheels twirl”), inline skates (“Wheels roll”) swinging beneath a tree branch, spinning within machinery or, in the most spectacular of the scenes, “Wheels soar into the sky” as a Ferris wheel carries bright-colored cars upside down and over. Wheel this in after or instead of Shelley Rotner’s photographically illustrated Wheels Around (1995), and leave preschool audiences’ heads a-spin. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: May 22, 2006

ISBN: 0-618-56307-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2006

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