King Jack and the Dragon: Peter Bently & Helen Oxenbury
Children's Literacy and Reading News Roundup: Mid-January

Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site: Sherri Duskey Rinker

Book: Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site
Author: Sherri Duskey Rinker
Illustrator: Tom Lichtenheld
Pages: 32
Age Range: 3-8

1-67baedd98bWhile Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site isn't exactly my personal cup of tea, story-wise, I think that it will be a huge hit with its target audience of small boys. Sherri Duskey Rinker's premise is that the various trucks at a construction site each undertake a final couple of tasks before settling in for the night. Like this (across two page spreads):

"Spinning, churning all day long,
Cement Mixer sings his whirly song.
Now (yawn!) he's weary and so dizzy,
From the fun that keeps him busy.

With one last spin, he pours the load.
He's ready now to leave the road.

He takes a bath, gets shiny-bright,
Pulls up his chute, turns off his light.

He cuts his engine, slows his drum,
And dreams sweet dreams of twirly fun.

Shh...goodnight, Cement Mixer, goodnight.

I found this a nice picture of the attributes of a cement mixer, mingled with an energetic vocabulary (I like the use of "weary", not a big word, but a less-common one). Parents might weary of this same general format applied to truck after truck, but I think that kids will enjoy it. There are plenty of fun sound effects to read aloud, as befitting a symphony of trucks.

But what really makes Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site shine are Tom Lichtenheld's wax oil pastel illustrations (they look like waxy, textured colored pencil pictures). The page in which the sun sets is downright gorgeous, with an assortment of equipment lined up against a warm, red-gold sky. The crane truck's final beam, lowered above a setting sun, is glorious, too, as are some of the later night images. The detail of the texture, combined with warm colors, makes the reader positively long to stroke the pages.

Set against these dramatic backgrounds, the trucks themselves are conveyed with a lighter, humorous touch. Each truck has a distinctive character and Lichtenheld finds  creative ways of displaying limbs and facial features. Most of the trucks are particularly cute when they are asleep.

Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site is sure to please truck-mad young boys, who will file away the details about the construction equipment, and pore over the lovingly-created illustrations. A must-purchase for libraries, and a fairly safe choice as a birthday gift for a 4-5 year-old boy. Especially recommended for fans of Jon Scieszka's Trucktown series.

Publisher: Chronicle Books (@ChronicleBooks)
Publication Date: May 4, 2011
Source of Book: Library copy
Nominated for 2011 Cybils in Fiction Picture Books by: Pam van Hylckama Vlieg

© 2011 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. This site is an Amazon affiliate, and purchases made through Amazon links may result in my receiving a small commission (at no additional cost to you).