These trucks are stuck in a concept that isn’t up to speed, with a plot that ultimately sputters and runs out of gas.

HOW TO TRACK A TRUCK

An Asian boy named Mike narrates a guide to finding and taming a truck as an unusual type of pet.

In this companion to How to Train a Train (2013), Eaton and Rocco again imagine hunting and capturing a huge transportation vehicle, taming it, and taking it home. Narrator Mike has his own garage and owns two dump trucks and a fire engine as his personal pet trucks. He advises readers on various types of trucks and recommends looking for a truck “in its native habitat.” Mike explains how to catch a truck by using a trail of orange traffic cones and recommends finding the pet truck a “useful project” and other trucks for playtime. Seven children of different ethnicities find and name their own pet trucks and then watch as their pets work together in an imaginative construction project in a way that’s described as “pure magic.” Several illustrations of the children may have safety-conscious adults sucking their teeth, with some kids riding on top of moving vehicles and others standing perilously near to trucks in motion. An extra-large trim size accommodates the big rigs, but the human characters are proportionally tiny and somewhat lost in the design. The trucks themselves don’t work visually either as pets or as individual characters. Their headlights serve as eyes, but the vehicles never seem alive or particularly appealing.

These trucks are stuck in a concept that isn’t up to speed, with a plot that ultimately sputters and runs out of gas. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: Sept. 27, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-7636-8065-7

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: July 20, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2016

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A quiet, thought-provoking story of environmental change and the power humans have to slow it.

THE OLD BOAT

A multigenerational tale of a boat’s life with a Black family, written by two brothers who loved similar boats.

In the opening spread, a smiling, brown-skinned adult dangles a line from the back of a green-and-white boat while a boy peers eagerly over the side at the sea life. The text never describes years passing, but each page turn reveals the boy’s aging, more urban development on the shore, increasing water pollution, marine-life changes (sea jellies abound on one page), and shifting water levels. Eventually, the boy, now a teenager, steers the boat, and as an adult, he fishes alone but must go farther and farther out to sea to make his catch. One day, the man loses his way, capsizes in a storm, and washes up on a small bay island, with the overturned, sunken boat just offshore. Now a “new sailor” cleans up the land and water with others’ help. The physical similarities between the shipwrecked sailor and the “new sailor” suggest that this is not a new person but one whose near-death experience has led to an epiphany that changes his relationship to water. As the decaying boat becomes a new marine habitat, the sailor teaches the next generation (a child with hair in two Afro puffs) to fish. Focusing primarily on the sea, the book’s earth-toned illustrations, created with hundreds of stamps, carry the compelling plot.

A quiet, thought-provoking story of environmental change and the power humans have to slow it. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: March 2, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-324-00517-9

Page Count: 56

Publisher: Norton Young Readers

Review Posted Online: Dec. 25, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2021

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Between its autumn and field-trip themes and the fact that not many books start countdowns from 20, this may find its way to...

PUMPKIN COUNTDOWN

A class visits the pumpkin patch, giving readers a chance to count down from 20.

At the farm, Farmer Mixenmatch gives them the tour, which includes a petting zoo, an educational area, a corn maze and a tractor ride to the pumpkin patch. Holub’s text cleverly though not always successfully rhymes each child’s name within the line: “ ‘Eighteen kids get on our bus,’ says Russ. / ‘But someone’s late,’ says Kate. / ‘Wait for me!’ calls Kiri.” Pumpkins at the tops of pages contain the numerals that match the text, allowing readers to pair them with the orange-colored, spelled-out numbers. Some of the objects proffered to count are a bit of a stretch—“Guess sixteen things we’ll see,” count 14 cars that arrived at the farm before the bus—but Smith’s artwork keeps things easy to count, except for a challenging page that asks readers to search for 17 orange items (answers are at the bottom, upside down). Strangely, Holub includes one page with nothing to count—a sign marks “15 Pumpkin Street.” Charming, multicultural round-faced characters and lots of detail encourage readers to go back through the book scouring pages for the 16 things the kids guessed they might see. Endpapers featuring a smattering of pumpkin facts round out the text.

Between its autumn and field-trip themes and the fact that not many books start countdowns from 20, this may find its way to many library shelves. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: July 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-8075-6660-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Whitman

Review Posted Online: May 16, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2012

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