May Carnival of Children's Literature
Children's Literacy Round-Up: June 1

Truck Stuck: Sallie Wolf

Book: Truck Stuck
Author: Sallie Wolf
Illustrator: Andy Robert Davies
Pages: 32
Age Range: 3-6

Truck StuckTruck Stuck, written by Sallie Wolf and illustrated by Andy Robert Davies, is the story of what happens when a red truck gets completely stuck underneath an overpass, blocking traffic in both directions and stymieing both the driver and the local authorities. Two resourceful children, lucky enough to have a lemonade stand set up right by the site of the incident, save the day.

In her review, Esme Raji Codell said: "With plenty to point at and laugh at, this book is going to be an action-packed favorite that, like Richard Scarry's CARS AND TRUCKS AND THINGS THAT GO, bears repeated reading." I agree. The progression of different types of vehicles that are blocked by the truck, from a wood chipper to a pink convertible, is sure to entertain young readers. There are quite a range of people, too, most of whom visit the two children at their lemonade stand, including an apparent Elvis impersonator and a cowboy with a guitar. Eventually, the whole thing turns into a big party, also the tiniest bit reminiscent of To Think That I Saw it on Mulberry Street. And of course it's a wonderful thing for kids to see that children can solve the problem, with a realistically kid-friendly solution.

The toddler-friendly text is minimalist, with short, punchy, rhyming phrases. For example, the following text covers two page spreads:

Traffic cops.
Whistles blow.
Try to tow.
No go.
Big truck.
Still stuck.

Most of the words are simple, concrete words that young children will recognize, but Wolf does throw in the word "Hullabaloo" in pleasing fashion. This is a book that adults won't mind reading and re-reading aloud. The text is well-integrated with the illustrations, too.

The illustrations (pen and ink with digital manipulation) have lots of detail to reward close examination by young readers. For example, the truck has a hood ornament that is reminiscent of a statue on the prow of a ship, a cross between bird, angel, and woman. And when the truck first blocks the road, everyone looks irritated, even the sculpted bee atop the exterminator's truck, and the clown driving a delivery van. Every time I flip through the pages, I find something else to enjoy in the pictures, like the joyful little old lady throwing her cane up in the air with joy when the truck becomes unstuck, and the traffic cop with bright yellow pigtails that curve upward, with echoes of Pippi Longstocking.

All in all, this is a bright, fun book that would be an excellent addition to any pre-schooler's shelf. Highly recommended.

Publisher: Charlesbridge
Publication Date: January 15, 2008 (new edition)
Source of Book: A review copy from the publisher
Other Blog Reviews: PlanetEsme
Other Links: See an article by Sallie Wolf in The Prairie Wind and a blog post at Unabridged about how life met art recently in Boston.

© 2009 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved.