Great Books: Things That Go!

Peruse these recently published selections to rev up your picture book shelves, create an attention-grabbing display, or put together a fun-packed storytime.
Bursting with vehicles that vroom, zoom, putt putt, and soar, these irresistible picture books are must-shares for young transportation fans. Peruse these recently published selections to rev up your picture book shelves, create an attention-grabbing display, or put together a fun-packed storytime. All the Way to Havana. by Margarita Engle. illus. by Mike Curato. Holt/Godwin. 2017. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781627796422. PreS-Gr 2–A boy and his parents load up their old car to drive from their village to the city to celebrate the birth of a new baby. Like many of Cuba’s pre-1959 American automobiles, Cara Cara has been lovingly repaired and inventively jury-rigged to last through the decades. Today, however, her usual chicken-like cacophony (“cara cara, cara cara,/cluck, cluck, cluck” ) is sounding a bit diminished (“Pío pío,/pío pío,/pfffft”). Never fear, Papá pulls out his toolbox, and after some tenacious tinkering, soon has the 1954 Chevy ready to purr (“cara cara”), glide (“taka taka”), and “zoom zoom,” and they are on their way. Rhythmic text and lovely mixed-media artwork convey a strong sense of place and offer a family adventure teeming with sweet affection, the spirit of perseverance and ingenuity, and much-cherished antique cars. Alphabet Boats. by Samantha R. Vamos. illus. by Ryan O’Rourke. Charlesbridge. 2018. Tr $14.99. ISBN 9781580897310. PreS-Gr 1–“Raise the anchor./Grab the oars./Chart a course/to distant shores.” Beginning with airboat, barge, and catamaran, rhyming verses and cheerful warm-hued illustrations introduce interesting vessels from A to Z. Each boat is depicted in action in its appropriate aquatic milieu, and the featured letter is playfully incorporated into the artwork. Fun to share aloud and also informative, this book comes complete with helpful backmatter providing more detail on the crafts. Big Choo. by Stephen Shaskan. illus. by author. Scholastic. 2018. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780545708579. PreS-K–Determined to be as “brave, fast, and strong” as his father, Little Choo decides that he is ready to ride the main line. With Papa Pufferbelly cheering him on, the small-fry engine chugs across a bridge, primes his pistons to super speed, and hauls a line of freight cars. All goes well until Choo’s wheels slip while charging up a mountainside and he is derailed, but Papa’s encouraging words help the little train get back on track. Filled with chant-along sound effects and plenty of can-do spirit, this homage to Virginia Lee Burton’s work blends contemporary-looking sherbet-hued artwork with a classic vibe. Bus! Stop! by James Yang. illus. by author. Viking. 2018. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780425288771; ebook $10.99. ISBN 9780425288795. PreS-Gr 1–This book’s young protagonist may have missed his bus, but he’s in for an extraordinary surprise. A parade of peculiar public transportation vehicles—and passengers—begins to trundle down the city street: a tram on stilted legs loads several triangle-shaped individuals; a Conestoga wagon pauses to take in cow folk; a yacht arrives and is boarded by sailors. Before long, the bemused boy decides to take the plunge and hails a stripped tubular contraption with balloons that floats up to the stars. This bus-shaped book’s brief text and witty graphic-style illustrations stir imaginations, inspire smiles, and encourage thinking outside of the transportation box. Food Truck Fest! by Alexandra Penfold. illus. by Mike Dutton. FSG. 2018. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780374303181. PreS-Gr 1–Bouncy rhymes and vividly detailed illustrations capture the enthusiastic hullabaloo as food truck crews and a hungry family of four gear up for an outdoor festival. After a whirlwind of cooking, mincing, icing, and packing (and an unexpected detour on the ferry), “The caravan arrives—along with a crowd/that’s excited, and eager, and rowdy, and loud”—and ready to try a variety of tasty treats. With effervescent artwork depicting attendees as culturally diverse—and mod—as the fusion fare offered, this picture book serves up a scrumptious summertime celebration of food, fun, and community. If You Had a Jetpack. by Lisl H. Detlefsen. illus. by Linzie Hunter. Knopf. 2018. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780399553295; ebook $10.99. ISBN 9780399553318. PreS-Gr 2–Readers are invited to imagine all of the spectacular things they could do if they built and used a jetpack, such as playing turbo tag at recess, flying south to see Nana, and blasting off to visit the space station. Whimsical, motion-filled artwork and high-spirited storytelling imbue this tale’s adventure-loving rabbit protagonist with can-do attitude, inventive spirit, and a propensity for acts of kindness. I’m Smart! by Kate McMullan. illus. by Jim McMullan. HarperCollins/Balzar + Bray. 2017. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062449238. PreS-Gr 2–In this latest entry in an appealing series starring sentient—and amusingly swaggering—vehicles as narrators, a school bus describes the many ways that it keeps its precious kid cargo safe (before and after climbing aboard), entertained (during a traffic stand still), and revved up and ready for the school day. Bounding text and eye-dazzling, action-packed artwork ensure a robust ride. Let’s Go ABC! by Rhonda Gowler Greene. illus. by Daniel Kirk. Bloomsbury. 2018. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780802735096; ebook $11.89. ISBN 9781681199467. PreS–From airplane to zeppelin, rhyming verses and color-drenched illustrations starring affable animal characters introduce a variety of modes of transportation. Each poem ends with the name of the featured vehicle, encouraging listeners to chime in with the answer, and the detailed, motion-filled visual scenarios include and an array of critters and objects beginning with same letter, reinforcing the ABC concept. Appealing to listen to and look at, this engaging romp through the alphabet will be requested again and again. Little Plane Learns to Write. by Stephen Savage. illus. by author. Roaring Brook/Neal Porter. 2017. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781626724365. PreS-K–The author of Little Tug (2012), The Mixed-Up Truck (2016), and Supertruck (2015, all Roaring Brook) takes to the skies to tell a story about a single-prop protagonist who loves everything about flight school but struggles to succeed at skywriting. Little Plane excels at doing arcs and dives, but the loopity-loops make him dizzy. “Writing is too hard,” he thinks, but practice and persistence eventually bring success. Simple text, vivacious digital artwork, and an upbeat message will speak volumes to youngsters who are constantly taking on and mastering new skills. Old MacDonald Had a Boat. By Steve Goetz. illus. by Eda Kaban. Chronicle. 2018. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781452165059. PreS-Gr 1–In this follow up to Old Macdonald Had a Truck (Chronicle, 2016), the farm couple and their hard-working animals get busy refurbishing a bedraggled old fishing boat. It will take plenty of power tools, all deployed with suitable sound effects to the familiar format of the traditional song, to get the job done. Toe-tapping text and expansive, summer-hued gouache artwork describe the zany action with buoyant humor, culminating with the launch of the now slick and speedy Finntastic and afternoon of waterskiing. Sleep Train. by Jonathon London. illus. by Lauren Eldridge. Viking. 2018. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780451473035; ebook $10.99. ISBN 9780698183506. PreS-Gr 1–As a young African America boy settles into to bed to share a story with his stuffie, he begins to count not sheep, but “Ten sleepy cars/going clickety-clack./With an engine in front/and a caboose in back.” Cleverly created as 3-D models, photographed, and digitally manipulated, Eldridge’s illustrations provide a dreamy, dusky-hued accompaniment to London’s lilting text, as the train passes through starlit landscapes, the cars are named and enumerated from 1 to 10, and the youngster, ensconced in his sleeping car (number 10), gradually settles into dreamland. An enchanting choice for storytime or bedtime. Truck Full of Ducks. by Ross Burach. illus. By author. Scholastic. 2018. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781338129366. PreS-Gr 2–Bernie the dog is determined to make an on-time delivery of ducks (stacked to the max in his open pickup truck) but the customer’s address has gone missing. Undaunted, the driver and his goofy bright-yellow flock rush around town searching for their client (and meeting individuals in need of other sorts of trucks along the way) until they finally reach their destination (uh oh, it’s the home of H.Ungry Fox…but there’s another twist in store). This book’s energetic cartoon artwork, zany visual shenanigans, clever word play, and satisfyingly silly plot will quack readers up! Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Car. by Kate Dopirak. illus. by Mary Peterson. S&S/Beach Lane. 2018. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781481488037. PreS–The traditional song gets a revved-up retelling as a wide-awake red convertible avoids bedtime by driving around town bidding all the other vehicles good night. Finally growing sleepy, the little car muffles a “vroomy yawn,” putt-putts home to garage, and settles in to let its “beep-beep dreams begin.” The digitally collaged linoleum block print illustrations employ simple lines to depict the cheerful round-eyed car and its anthropomorphic friends, while setting the action against calming twilight backgrounds. A beguiling book as a storytime read-aloud or for tuck-into-bed sharing.
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