JACKSON AND BUD’S BUMPY RIDE

AMERICA’S FIRST CROSS-COUNTRY AUTOMOBILE TRIP

Two men and a dog set off on the first transcontinental car trip in this fetching re-creation of a true story. Responding to a $50 bet, Horatio Jackson hires a mechanic, buys a 20-horsepower Winton (this was 1903) and sets out from San Francisco, acquiring a bulldog along the way. Considering that there were but 150 miles of paved road in the whole country at the time—and neither gas stations nor many road signs—their 5,600-mile journey to New York, accomplished in just 63.5 days, stands as a triumph of sheer perseverance. In his cartoon pictures Hargis depicts all three of his goggle-wearing travelers having the time of their lives, determinedly riding their increasingly mud-spattered horseless carriage through mountains, deserts and storms. The author sticks closely to the historical record in her present-tense narrative and layers in more detail, plus photos, in a closing note. Though she doesn’t fill in all the blanks—where, for instance, did they find gas and spare parts?—her invitation to clamber aboard will be hard to resist. (Informational picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: April 1, 2009

ISBN: 978-0-8225-7885-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Millbrook

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2009

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TWENTY-ONE ELEPHANTS AND STILL STANDING

Strong rhythms and occasional full or partial rhymes give this account of P.T. Barnum’s 1884 elephant parade across the newly opened Brooklyn Bridge an incantatory tone. Catching a whiff of public concern about the new bridge’s sturdiness, Barnum seizes the moment: “’I will stage an event / that will calm every fear, erase every worry, / about that remarkable bridge. / My display will amuse, inform / and astound some. / Or else my name isn’t Barnum!’” Using a rich palette of glowing golds and browns, Roca imbues the pachyderms with a calm solidity, sending them ambling past equally solid-looking buildings and over a truly monumental bridge—which soars over a striped Big Top tent in the final scene. A stately rendition of the episode, less exuberant, but also less fictionalized, than Phil Bildner’s Twenty-One Elephants (2004), illustrated by LeUyen Pham. (author’s note, resource list) (Picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 2005

ISBN: 0-618-44887-X

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2005

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ISAAC THE ICE CREAM TRUCK

Newcomer Santoro’s story of the ice cream truck that pined for a more important role in life suffers from a premise that’s well-worn and still fraying—the person or object that longs to be something “more” in life, only to find out that his or its lot in life is enough, after all. Isaac the ice cream truck envies all the bigger, larger, more important vehicles he encounters (the big wheels are depicted as a rude lot, sullen, surly, and snarling, hardly a group to excite much envy) in a day, most of all the fire trucks and their worthy occupants. When Isaac gets that predictable boost to his self-image—he serves up ice cream to over-heated firefighters after a big blaze—it comes as an unmistakable putdown to the picture-book audience: the children who cherished Isaac—“They would gather around him, laughing and happy”—weren’t reason enough for him to be contented. Santoro equips the tale with a tune of Isaac’s very own, and retro scenes in tropical-hued colored pencil that deftly convey the speed of the trucks with skating, skewed angles. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: May 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-8050-5296-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1999

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