The Mixed-Up Truck

illus. by Stephen Savage. 32p. RoaringBrook/Neal Porter Bks. Jul. 2016. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781626721531. POP
PreS-Gr 1—First days can be challenging. Playing on words, this picture book shows that this is true even for cement mixers—sometimes they mix things up while mixing things up. When this cement mixer starts at the construction site, all the other smiling trucks are busy: lifting, dumping, digging. "How can I help?" asks the cement mixer. "Mix up some powdery white cement," the trucks tell him. The page turn finds the cement mixer beaming proudly outside a giant flour mill. The other trucks lose their smiles when they later discover a cake instead of cement. The next white powder that the cement mixer tries comes from the sugar factory and becomes frosting. The book is smartly designed, and the refrain gives nothing away ("The cement mixer mixed up the white powder, added a little water, and presto!"), while the visuals, through signage, show the cement mixer's mistakes, with the results revealed after the page turn. Background colors depict the passing of the day, and as the sun sets, the cement mixer finally ends up at the factory with the "cement" sign. The next page shows all the happy trucks admiring a new building. The cement mixer has one final stop before ending the day—the soap factory. A giant citywide bubble bath leaves all the trucks clean and ready for a good night's sleep in the garage. Geometric art in bright, flat colors pops from the pages, as do the engaging personalities of the trucks. Through it all, the cement mixer remains determined, and upon the book's close, it seems likely that tomorrow will be a smoother day.
VERDICT This tale's tight plot and winsome characters serve the dual purpose of exploring the world of vehicles and emphasizing the rewards of perseverance. A surefire storytime selection.

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