SHARED by: Ms. Katherine, Librarian at York Avenue Preschool

Beep! Beep! Zoom! Zoom!

The holidays are fast approaching and many people (myself included) are planning faraway travels to celebrate with family and friends. Instead of writing about traditional holiday books, I thought I would take a different route (pun intended) and write about “Things that Go.”This topic is always a favorite one with preschoolers and you might just find that one of these books will make a great holiday gift or travel-friendly boredom buster for a little boy or girl in your life. Happy Holidays and Happy Reading.

ABC on Wheels by Ramon Olivera

Transportation lovers will have fun with “ABCs on Wheels.” Retro illustrations fill the pages beginning with “A is for axle” and ending with “Z is for zoom.”  In between, there are limos, stagecoaches, taxis, tractors, race cars and even a space rover. I really like the style of this book too. Each letter of the alphabet is shown in both upper and lower case and is larger than the rest of the text. It makes the letters more obvious to the reader so they know which one is being talked about. ) I also think the color choice are great and make this a very smart and sharp book. There are some particularly fun page– such as the spread for the letters N and O. It shows “new car” and “old car” as the same car and buyer decades apart. I also love the fact that there is diversity in the vehicle operators, and that one girl driver even wins the race. Little ones are likely to race to your lap when you pull this book out to read with them.

The Airport Book by Lisa Brown

“The Airport Book” is a delightful book that will fascinate all kids traveling by airplane. In it, a family of four has their trip to Grandma’s described in vivid detail. It begins with hailing a taxi, arriving at the busy airport, and then standing in many lines — for tickets, checking luggage and security. The narration for all that is happening is from the perspective of the older brother of the family, which is quite effective. He helpfully tells us “Sometimes the plane is bouncy, but most of the time it is smooth.” “Sometimes the sidewalks and staircases move by themselves.”“Sometimes there are small beeping cars driving through .”

There is so much going on! In addition to the main story, there are the stories told in the speech bubbles that are drawn in by hand. These bubbles include the thoughts, feelings, and emotions of other characters one might typically find in a busy airport, like the woman in the business suit who constantly talks on her phone. Even the airport signs, posters, luggage tags, T-shirts, and bumper stickers in the illustrations add information and fun to the story. The reader also can follow a secondary story involving the little sister’s lost sock monkey in the illustrations at the bottom of book’s pages. With all of this information and fun, I guarantee you will not need any electronic in-flight entertainment If you take this book along on your next plane trip.

A Firetruck Names Red by Randall de Seve

“A Firetruck Named Red” is an engaging tale with many important and endearing themes. The storyline goes like this: Rowan wants a shiny new fire truck he’s been admiring in the toy shop window for his birthday. The truck he desires has lights that flash, a siren that wails and a hose that sprays real water. He instead receives a battered, old-fashioned fire truck that belonged to his grandfather. He is disappointed and close to tears, but remains gracious when his grandfather says, “We’ll fix up Red better than new.” He tells Rowan about all the exciting adventures he had with the fire truck when he was a boy, and Rowan gets swept up with the stories. When his grandfather finishes sprucing up the fire truck, Rowan realizes “We could be a great team.” Readers similarly will realize that the author and illustrator of the book are a great team, too. The illustrator’s decision to use bright colors for the present day scenes and more neutral brown tones for the scenes Rowan’s grandfather remembers from his youth work really well to help young listeners distinguish between now and then. The cartoon-like characters (which remind me of Fischer Price toys) are pleasing, and grandfather’s mustache and curly wild hair add even more to the fun. This book would make a great birthday or holiday gift for any little boy or girl.

Twenty Big Trucks in the Middle of Our Street by Mark Lee

My 3-year old daughter is obsessed with all vehicles and this is her hands-down favorite truck book.  Luckily for her, it is also a book that I never get tired of reading or looking at. It is a fun counting book with marvelous, rhyming text and captivating illustrations that are full of meaning and parent/child conversation fodder. At the start of the book a little boy on a bicycle watches as an ice-cream truck rumbles past him. When the ice-cream truck breaks down in the middle of the street there is a chain-reaction traffic jam with truck after truck getting stuck behind it. From cement mixer to garbage truck, the trucks pile up. And so does the crowd. But the boy is always thereon his bike naming and numbering the vehicles in rhyming text. “I start to count each truck I see. / First 1, then 2, and now there are 3.”  As the story progresses–and the vehicles don’t–the boy continues to weave through the action looking at the situation from every angle. Your kids will enjoy finding him on every page (make sure they don’t miss him in the crane truck driver’s side view mirror!) On another great spread toward the end of the book that has readers looking down at the whole big mess, you can have your child count each truck that’s piled up waiting for the ice cream truck to move. Best of all your kids can cheer when the little boy comes up with the brilliant idea that finally gets traffic flowing once more. A nice finishing touch is that the ice cream truck sticks around allowing the boy to savor a delicious reward while also allowing readers one last chance to savor the incredible artwork and sweet ending of this awesome book.

If I Built a Car by Chris Van Dusen

This is one of my all-time favorite books. Although it is now over 10 years old (it was the winner of the 2006 E.B. White Read Aloud Award) it is still a fresh and timely joy ride. The main character, Jack, likes his dad’s car, but has his own ingenious ideas for a more perfect set of wheels. Young Jack has designed the ultimate fantasy car, inspired by trains, planes, and old Cadillacs. Adorned with shiny chrome and packed full of amenities such as a snack bar, a pool and a fireplace and upgrades, Jack’s futuristic car is out of this world. It even comes complete with a driver, Robert the Robot, who takes Jack and his father for a fun-filled test-drive. The story has rich vocabulary and an entertaining rhyming verse. The illustrations are spectacular and make the story come alive.

Between this book and the follow-up to it entitled If I Built a House, Van Dusen encourages children to think big and reminds us all that imagination and dreams are what lead to greatness. Both books are great in themselves and are musts for any child’s book collection.

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