April 8 – It’s Read a Road Map Week

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-caution-road-signs-ahead-cover

About the Holiday

Are you a lover of cars, road maps, and vehicles? If so, you’ve reached your destination! The first week of April is Read a Road Map Week, a nationwide holiday with mysterious origins. While nobody quite knows who drove this holiday into existence, it is now celebrated annually by road trippers across the US throughout the week, and especially on National Read a Road Map Day on April 5th. The holiday draws attention to the importance of roadmaps and the handiness of learning to read a physical map. In this day and age, drivers often rely on electronic GPS systems to get around. However, roadmaps used to be the only way to find your way to new locations. Learning to read road maps and road signs are useful skills for all. Celebrate this week’s holiday by learning more about how to read maps and road signs and taking a road trip to your local library or bookstore to pick up a copy of Caution! Road Signs Ahead—a perfect holiday read for kids on the go and curious about transportation.

Thanks to Toni Buzzeo and Rise x Penguin Workshop for sharing a copy of Caution! Road Signs Ahead for review consideration. All opinions of the book are my own.

Reviewed by Dorothy Levine

Caution! Road Signs Ahead

Written by Toni Buzzeo | Illustrated by Chi Birmingham

 

Are we there yet?! Do your kids ever feel a bit lost or listless during a looong car ride? Never fear; a lot of us do, and this clever board book is here to help children pass the hours gleefully while answering all of their road-trip questions. Finally, boredom be gone! With colorful infographics, die-cut pages, and clear-cut explanations, Caution! Road Signs Ahead explains the purpose of thirty-five signs kids on the go might see on a car trip in an easy and fun manner.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-caution-road-signs-ahead-interiors

Image copyright Chi Birmingham, 2021, text copyright Toni Buzzeo, 2021. Courtesy of Rise x Penguin Workshop.

The book opens with a view out the backseat window of a car on the move. Colored signs pop on a blue background, with big, orange writing along the top. Key words such as “look out, wonder, code, and safe” are bolded in white for young readers to recognize and learn. The book begins with questions for curious backseat riders: “When you look out the windows of a car or bus, do you notice signs on the side of the road? Do you wonder what they all mean?”

The next spread explains, “They are a code to let drivers know how to stay safe, what is nearby or where to pay extra attention. You can learn the code, too!” Readers are then invited on a journey of colorful, realistic signs and easy-to-read explanations of what they tell drivers. Sections on everyday road signs, neighborhood, highway, caution, and nature signages divide the book into digestible portions.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-caution-road-signs-ahead-winding-road

Image copyright Chi Birmingham, 2021, text copyright Toni Buzzeo, 2021. Courtesy of Rise x Penguin Workshop.

Each section opens with a brief explanation of the context of the signs ahead. For example: for the Highway Signs segment, a bright orange panel detailed with a complicated intersection illustration explains, “Small roads called exits lead you off the highway. Most of these signs tell you what you will find when you take certain exits.” Each description is cheerfully condensed to a single sentence punctuated with an explanation point. The text is fun, easy to read, and clear to understand.

A final spread of brilliant bright color blocks shows all of the signs in one and then invites readers to use their newfound knowledge on their next car ride. A life skills book that is so fun, kids will flip through the pages over and over again, until the signs are naturally memorized. This durable book is carefully crafted and a perfect treasure for every back-seat passenger.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-caution-road-signs-ahead-viewing-area

Image copyright Chi Birmingham, 2021, text copyright Toni Buzzeo, 2021. Courtesy of Rise x Penguin Workshop.

Toni Buzzeo’s twenty-ninth picture book engages young readers in an exploration the world of signage around them. Simple explanations encourage and empower young children with knowledge of the roads they travel. A one-of-a-kind non-fiction picture book that is always relevant, Caution! Road Signs Ahead is a perfect take-along for car trips, train rides, and even strolls around the neighborhood! The book is also a great resource for preschools and lower elementary classrooms to prepare the next generation of drivers to be careful, conscientious, and informed while on the go. What could be better?

Chi Birmingham realistically re-creates the shapes and colors of 35 road signs into tactile, cut-out designs that young readers can physically feel and marvel over. In each spread, the sign is presented on the right with its meaning cleverly posted to the silver “metal” backing of the previous sign. Text and signs are consistent, and clearly labeled, matching the straightforward nature of road signage. The illustrations are mesmerizing and aesthetically pleasing in the unique ways they stack and complement each other. Each section features a new, bold color scheme and creative cut outs. The construction of the catchy explanations and flashy signs come together to produce a gem of a book; a joy to flip through, for children and adults alike. Road trips have just become 35 times better for all—time for a road trip to pick up a copy of this book!

Ages 2 – 5

Rise x Penguin Workshop, 2021 | ISBN 978-0593224328

Discover more about Toni Buzzeo and her books on her website.

To learn more about Chi Birmingham, his books, and his art on his website.

Read a Road Map Week Activities

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-road-trip-word-search

Road Trip Word Search

 

Find words related to driving and road-tripping in this free printable car shaped word search!

Road Trip Word Search PuzzleRoad Trip Word Search Solution

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-I-Spy-travel-and-transport-game

I Spy Travel & Transport Game

 

While you’re in the car or on a walk, see how many of the sights on this free printable scavenger hunt  from Paper Trail Design you can find!

I Spy Travel & Transport Game

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-license-plate-game

License Plate Game

 

Check off as many license plates as you can spot on a road trip with this free printable colorful game from Paper Trail Design

License Plate Game Board

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-caution-road-signs-ahead-cover

You can find Caution! Road Signs Ahead at these booksellers

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million

To support your local independent bookstore, order from

Bookshop | IndieBound

Picture Book Review

 

October 2 – Name Your Car Day

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-all-except-axel-cover

About the Holiday

We love our cars! Sometimes it seems we spend more time with them than with our own family – and maybe some of us do! What do you call such a reliable partner? A friend, of course! Our friends have names, so why shouldn’t our cars? That’s the idea behind today’s whimsical holiday. To celebrate, give your car the perfect moniker. All names are open, well… 

Thanks to Blue Slip Media and Aladdin for sending me a copy of All Except Axle for review consideration. All opinions about the book are my own. I’m revved up to be offering a giveaway of the book as well! See details below.

All Except Axle

Written by Sue Lowell Gallion | Illustrated by Lisa Manuzak Wiley

 

At the car assembly plant, all the new cars were happily getting buffed before they rolled off the conveyor belt and raced into their slot on the lot. That is… “all except one. Axle.” From the parking lot, the cars drove up the ramps and onto the big transport trucks for the next part of their adventure. But one car lagged behind, watching from a distance – Axle.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-all-except-axel-factory

Image copyright Lisa Manuzak Wiley, 2020, text copyright Sue Lowell Gallion, 2020. Courtesy of Aladdin.

The transport trucks vroomed onto the highway, but…. They were one short. “Earlene, and her passengers…were waiting for Axle.” Axle idled nearby. “‘I think I’m out of alignment,'” he told Earlene. “‘I think you’re stalling,'” Earlene said. The other cars were encouraging, but Earlene got Axle moving with a loud HONNKK!

Finally zooming down the highway, the other cars loved feeling the wind and “[leaning] into the twists and turns.” But Axle felt carsick. When the reached the dealership, the other cars eagerly explored the lot and showroom. All except Axle, who “hurried back up Earlene’s ramp and pleaded with her to go back to the plant. 

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-all-except-axel-afraid

Image copyright Lisa Manuzak Wiley, 2020, text copyright Sue Lowell Gallion, 2020. Courtesy of Aladdin.

With a Vroom they were off – but not to the plant. Soon, Earlene veered into a truck stop, where, she said, Axle could practice. Axle made right turns, left turns, and U-turns around the cement columns and followed Earlene around and around the lot. Then they left the truck stop and headed out to the flatlands, the foothills, where “the slope grew steeper and steeper,” and even into the mountains. From high on the top of a mountain, Axle stopped to enjoy the view.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-all-except-axel-truck

Image copyright Lisa Manuzak Wiley, 2020, text copyright Sue Lowell Gallion, 2020. Courtesy of Aladdin.

Earlene was zipping back down the curvy mountain road with Axle far behind. Then Axle smelled something burning and watches as Earlene “rockets up a runaway truck ramp.” When Earlene finally stopped, they saw the flat tire. Earlene needed a tow truck and Axle was her only hope. He turned around and climbed the mountain road again. It was a strain on his engine, but when he reached the top, Axle kept on going all the way back to the truck stop.

There he found a tow truck and led it straight back to Earlene. “‘Nice job, kid,’ the tow truck said” then offered Axle a ride back into town. But Axle replied, “‘No thanks, I can drive!'” and he zoomed ahead to lead Earlene and the tow truck back to the city. 

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-all-except-axel-city

Image copyright Lisa Manuzak Wiley, 2020, text copyright Sue Lowell Gallion, 2020. Courtesy of Aladdin.

Car, truck, and vehicle fans will love Sue Lowell Gallion’s story that boosts little ones’ self-confidence with reassurance and a sweet hero who just needs a little more practice to discover the courage under his hood. With plenty of puns to tickle readers, Gallion’s story reflects the feelings of kids hesitant to make changes or leave their comfort zone. Axle’s reactions mirror many behaviors anxious or hesitant children display, allowing adults and kids an opportunity to talk about emotions. Her well-paced story also lets readers to ride along with Axle as he tries out and improves his skills. When Earlene needs help, Axle may feel a moment of nervousness, but with his new-found belief in himself, he takes to those once-scary roads and saves the day.

Lisa Manuzak Wiley’s bold and vibrant illustrations will appeal to kids – and especially vehicle-lovers – with detailed images of cars on a factory line, loaded into transport trucks, and heading out on the open road. Her vehicles are both realistic and whimsical, and their expressive headlight eyes clearly reflect Axle’s trepidation and the other cars’ excitement for their adventure. Children will enjoy pointing out and counting the different cars from page to page.

For children who need a little encouragement on the road of life, All Except Axle is an engaging and reassuring story that’s sure to capture their imagination.

Ages 4 – 8

Aladdin, 2020 | ISBN 978-1534440227

Discover more about Sue Lowell Gallion and her books on her website.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-all-except-axle-storytime-kit

You can find an All about Axle Storytime Kit with a puzzle, puppets, a coloring page, discussion questions, and a coping strategies worksheet on Sue’s website here.

To learn more about Lisa Manuzak Wiley, her books, and her art, visit her website.

All Except Axle Giveaway

I’m excited to partner with Blue Slip Media and Aladdin in a giveaway of

  • One (1) copy of All Except Axle, written by Sue Lowell Gallion | illustrated by Lisa Manuzak Wiley

To enter:

  • Follow Celebrate Picture Books
  • Retweet a giveaway tweet
  • Bonus: Reply with a name for your car for extra entry. Each reply earns you one extra entry

This giveaway is open from October 2 to October 8 and ends at 8:00 p.m. EST.

A winner will be chosen on October 9. 

Giveaway open to U.S. addresses only. | Prizing provided by Aladdin

Name Your Car Day Activity

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-truck-racing-game-wood

Racing for Friendship Game

Here’s a racing game that kids will love! With poster board, paper, and chalk or other art supplies, kids can place their track in a city, the country, the desert, or even in outer space! Once the scene is ready, get out your own toy cars or trucks to play with or use the printable truck game pieces included below. Use a traditional playing die or the included printable 8-sided playing die. The first player to the finish line wins—or shake it up a bit and make the last person to the line the winner.

The track can be laid out on the floor and taped in place or created on poster board or paper with the supplies below:

Supplies

  • Poster board or tri-fold display board. I used a 12-inch by 4-foot section of a tri-fold board in my example. This allows you to fold up the board for easier storing.
  • White paper
  • Chalk, crayons, or colored pencils
  • Glue or tape
  • Scissors
  • Toy trucks or cars
  • Printable Truck Game Pieces (optional)
  • Printable 8-sided Playing Die

Directions

  1. Cut 30 4- or 5-inch by 1½-inch strips from the white paper
  2. Have kids lay out a track on the board using the white paper strips (each strip is one space) leaving room in between the rows for scenery
  3. Glue or tape the strips in place
  4. Draw scenery around the track OR cut trees, buildings, landmarks, or other scenery from paper and color. Glue or tape to board. 
  5. Print and assemble 8-sided playing die with tape (optional)
  6. Give each player a toy truck or car. Alternately, print and cut out included Truck Game Pieces. (To make them sturdier, print on heavy paper or glue them to cardboard)
  7. Choose a player to go first
  8. Players take turns rolling the die and moving the appropriate number of spaces
  9. The first (or last) player to the finish line is the winner

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-all-except-axel-cover

You can find All Except Axle at these booksellers

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million 

To support your local independent bookstore, order from

Bookshop | IndieBound

Picture Book Review

September 1 – Celebrating the Book Birthday of Two Tough Trucks Get Lost!

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-two-trucks-get-lost-cover

About the Holiday

September 1st ushers in Read a New Book Month, during which readers are encouraged to discover brand new books or books that are new to them. The holiday is the perfect time to celebrate the book birthday of a picture book that’s a little bit of both—Two Tough Trucks Get Lost!, the sweet, surprising, and a little spooky sequel to kid-favorite Two Tough Trucks.

A big thank you to Scholastic for sharing a digital copy of Two Tough Trucks Get Lost! for review consideration. I’m happy to be partnering with Corey Rosen Schwartz in a giveaway of the book. Details are below.

Two Tough Trucks Get Lost!

Written by Corey Rosen Schwartz and Rebecca J. Gomez | Illustrated by Hilary Leung

Mack and Rig are two little trucks and “the fastest of friends” who “loved racing and chasing / and zipping ‘round bends.” One day these two went to Rugged Ride Park, where they did loop-de-loops and jumped hurdles and sped down the track. But they wanted more thrills, so this “daredevil dude and thrill-seeker truck” took off into the desert.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-two-trucks-get-lost-speeding

Image copyright Hilary Leung, 2020, text copyright Corey Rosen Schwartz and Rebecca J. Gomez, 2020. Courtesy of Scholastic.

They zipped and zoomed past a stony arch and around turns. Then “Mack dashed ahead. / A glimmer of blue and a flicker of red.” Neither truck noticed the fork in the road, and Mack went left as Rig went right. It didn’t take long before they both screeched to a halt, each wondering where his friend had gone. They looked this way and that and even “reached the same ridge, / but Rig took the tunnel / and Mack took the bridge.”

The sun was setting and Rig and Mack were getting worried. They drove through canyons and quarries with no sight of each other, and both feared they were “hopelessly lost.” They quivered at frightening shadows and creepy sounds. Then Mack climbed to the top of a cliff, from where he could see to the horizon, while Rig had a brilliant idea and sent up his flare.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-two-trucks-get-lost-fork

Image copyright Hilary Leung, 2020, text copyright Corey Rosen Schwartz and Rebecca J. Gomez, 2020. Courtesy of Scholastic.

Soon they had found each other and were back side-by-side. Together they drew a map back to the park. Thinking how frightened their parents must be, they zipped through the desert, past landmarks they’d seen on their route, and when they reached the park there were familiar headlights waiting for them. Mack and Rig were happy to be back with their parents and back together.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-two-trucks-get-lost-bridge

Image copyright Hilary Leung, 2020, text copyright Corey Rosen Schwartz and Rebecca J. Gomez, 2020. Courtesy of Scholastic.

Kids who are just as exuberant and curious as Mack and Rig will be thrilled to share these friends’ excitement to go off-road and show what they’ve got. The freedom and independence Rig and Mack feel in the wide-open desert is as infectious as Corey Rosen Schwartz and Rebecca Gomez’s rhymes, and children will understand how Mack and Rig miss the sign and get separated. When the realization sets in that Mack and Rig are lost and alone, kids will empathize with their fears and homesickness as well as their worries for each other and their parents. While Rig and Mack enjoy being daredevils together, when the chips are down, it’s their individual personalities that bring them home. Go-get-‘em Mack climbs a cliff for a better vantage point as thoughtful Rig sends up his flare to alert Mack to his location. This clever solution paired with the map Mack and Rig draw prove that best friends can be best teammates as well.

Fans of the first Two Tough Trucks book will be happy to be reunited with Mack, sporting his yellow baseball cap, and Rig with his green headband in Hilary Leung’s vibrant illustrations. From the moment the trucks head out to the park with its fun ramps that kids will recognize from the skate park, readers will love tagging along through the desert as Mack and Rig zoom and vroom, kicking up dust. As the sun sets, Leung effectively portrays Mack and Rig’s growing unease through easily identifiable facial expression. For these two worried trucks, the saguaro cacti, turtle, and roadrunner which had cheered them on during the day, in twilight become ominous shadows and glowering figures. Readers will enjoy comparing the map Rig and Mack draw to the routes they’ve taken, and the comforting glow of their parents’ headlights will remind them of the love in their own home.

Sweet and kid-empowering, Two Tough Trucks Get Lost! would be an often-asked-for addition to home, school, and public library collections.

Ages 3 – 6

Scholastic, 2020 | ISBN 978-1338236552

Discover more about Corey Rosen Schwartz and her books on her website.

To learn more about Rebecca J. Gomez and her books, visit her website

You can learn more about Hilary Leung and see a portfolio of his work on her website.

Check out my review of Two Tough Trucks!

Two Tough Trucks Get Lost! Giveaway

I’m excited to team up with Corey Rosen Schwartz to give away:

One (1) copy of Two Tough Trucks Get Lost!, written by Corey Rosen Schwartz and Rebecca J. Gomez | illustrated by Hilary Leung

To enter:

  • Follow me @CelebratePicBks on Twitter
  • Retweet a giveaway tweet
  • Bonus: Reply with your child’s favorite truck for an extra entry. Each reply earns one more entry.

This giveaway is open from September 1 through September 7 and ends at 8:00 p.m. EST.

A winner will be chosen on September 8.

Prizing provided by Corey Rosen Schwartz

Giveaway open to U.S. addresses only. | No Giveaway Accounts 

Two Tough Trucks Get Lost! Book Birthday Activity

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-truck-maze-circular

Keep on Zooming! Maze

These trucks want to play together. Can you help the blue and green truck navigate the maze to meet the yellow truck in this printable maze?

Keep on Zooming! Maze Puzzle | Keep on Zooming! Maze Solution

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-truck-maze-easy-square

Keep on Zooming! Easy Maze

Here’s an easier puzzle for little truckers!

Keep on Zooming! Easy Maze Puzzle | Keep on Zooming! Easy Maze Solution

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-two-trucks-get-lost-cover

You can find Two Tough Trucks Get Lost! at these booksellers

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million

To support your local independent bookstore, order from

Bookshop | IndieBound

Picture Book Review

May 8 – It’s Get Caught Reading Month

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-two-tough-trucks-cover

About the Holiday

The Get Caught Reading campaign was initiated in 1999 by the Association of American Publishers with the idea to promote literacy and language development through reading to children and encouraging them to read on their own. As part of the campaign, posters of celebrities, dignitaries, and even fictional characters enjoying a book are available for schools, libraries, and other organizations to hang where kids will see them. The excitement of reading also takes over social media all month long, which this year is more important than ever. To celebrate this holiday, make sure you stock up on new and favorite books or download ebooks or audiobooks from your library and get caught reading! Learn more by visiting the Get Caught Reading website and the Every Child a Reader website.

I received a copy of Two Tough Trucks from Orchard Books for review consideration. All opinions are my own.

Two Tough Trucks

Written by Corey Rosen Schwartz and Rebecca J. Gomez | Illustrated by Hilary Leung

 

One morning, two trucks are ready “for their first day of class.” But Rig’s “riding the brakes” while Mack’s “hitting the gas.” In their classroom, their teacher Miss Rhodes pairs these two up for a practice run on the track. First up is the circuit, with twists and a hairpin turn. Rig feels shaky, but Mack’s “a speedy red blur.” Mack picks up speed going into the turn and keeps on going, but Rig hits the brakes and skids off the course.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-two-tough-trucks-meeting

Image copyright Hilary Leung, 2019, text copyright Corey Rosen Schwartz and Rebecca J. Gomez, 2019. Courtesy of Orchard Books.

Next comes learning to downshift while climbing a hill. Mack breezes up as Rig carefully inches along. First to the top, Mack gloats, “‘I knew I was fast.’” And although Rig tried his best he “finished dead last.” Mack thought Rig was just dragging him down. For Rig, Mack just seemed liked a braggart. As he vroomed, Mack fumed and left Rig “in the dust.”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-two-tough-trucks-sharp-curve

Image copyright Hilary Leung, 2019, text copyright Corey Rosen Schwartz and Rebecca J. Gomez, 2019. Courtesy of Orchard Books.

The students moved on to practicing backing up. As they moved around traffic cones,  “they veered and corrected, / they turned and reversed. / Rig had good instincts, but Mack was… the worst.” Rig aced the course, but Mack? He was ready to quit until Rig steered him right. “Vroom! Zoom! / They backtracked and bumped. / A Mack making progress, / a Rig feeling pumped!”

Mack was surprised that Rig had helped him, but for Rig it was just the right thing to do. They headed back to the track and took it by storm. These two trucks were “now the fastest of friends.”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-two-tough-trucks-blundering-mack

Image copyright Hilary Leung, 2019, text copyright Corey Rosen Schwartz and Rebecca J. Gomez, 2019. Courtesy of Orchard Books.

Like life’s road itself, this original story of two trucks with distinct personalities and different strengths has many twists and turns and takes little ones on a multilayered journey of discovery. While Mack is rarin’ to go on his first day of truck school, Rig is more hesitant. When these two are teamed up for the day, Mack’s fast and daring approach to the track seems to be the right one as he nails the sharp curve and is the first to reach the peak of the hill, leaving Rig far behind. These early successes cause him to honk his own horn and complain about Rig.

But then in a clever literal and metaphorical reversal, Rig’s thoughtful restraint makes backing up his forte. In Mack’s reaction to being last, Corey Rosen Schwartz and Rebecca Gomez gently ramp up life lessons about perseverance and losing gracefully. Rig then goes on to demonstrate another winning trait in his generosity to teach Mack the finer points of driving in reverse. Mack’s acceptance of Rig’s kindness shows that the experience has taught him to be humble. Kudos to Miss Rhodes for creating a track that leads to strong bonds and friendship.

A book by Schwartz and Gomez always charms with smart rhyming and jaunty rhythms and Two Tough Trucks is no exception. Ingenious puns, evocative and active vocabulary, and plenty of “vrooms” and “zooms” for kids to chime in on make this book a lively read aloud.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-two-tough-trucks-sunset

Image copyright Hilary Leung, 2019, text copyright Corey Rosen Schwartz and Rebecca J. Gomez, 2019. Courtesy of Orchard Books.

Hilary Leung’s textured and boldly colored pages will thrill little readers as Mack and Rig take center stage on the dusty, western track. Mack’s confidence shows in his straight, crisp lines and grinning grill while Rig’s wariness takes the form of wobbly tires, bent frame, furrowed brow, and grimacing grill. Fittingly, the Truck School building is shaped like a parking garage, complete with a spiral ramp that takes students to the second and third story. Cacti, roadrunners, and craggy rock formations dot the sun-drenched desert track where Mack, Rig, and the rest of the students strut their stuff.

A joy to read out loud and a story kids will want to hear again and again, Two Tough Trucks is highly recommended for home bookshelves, preschool and kindergarten classrooms, and public libraries.

Ages 3 – 5

Orchard Books, 2019 | ISBN 978-1338236545

Discover more about Corey Rosen Schwartz and her books on her website.

To learn more about Rebecca J. Gomez and her books, visit her website.

To view a portfolio of work by Hilary Leung and learn more about his work, visit her website.

Get Caught Reading Month Activity

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-truck-racing-game-wood

Racing for Friendship Game

 

Here’s a racing game that kids will love! With poster board, paper, and chalk or other art supplies, kids can place their track in a city, the country, the desert, or even in outer space! Once the scene is ready, get out your own toy cars or trucks to play with or use the printable truck game pieces included below. Use a traditional playing die or the included printable 8-sided playing die. The first player to the finish line wins—or shake it up a bit and make the last person to the line the winner.

The track can be laid out on the floor and taped in place or created on poster board or paper with the supplies below:

Supplies

  • Poster board or tri-fold display board. I used a 12-inch by 4-foot section of a tri-fold board in my example. This allows you to fold up the board for easier storing.
  • White paper
  • Chalk, crayons, or colored pencils
  • Glue or tape
  • Scissors
  • Toy trucks or cars
  • Printable Truck Game Pieces (optional)
  • Printable 8-sided Playing Die

Directions

  1. Cut 30 4- or 5-inch by 1½-inch strips from the white paper
  2. Have kids lay out a track on the board using the white paper strips (each strip is one space) leaving room in between the rows for scenery
  3. Glue or tape the strips in place
  4. Draw scenery around the track OR cut trees, buildings, landmarks, or other scenery from paper and color. Glue or tape to board. 
  5. Print and assemble 8-sided playing die with tape (optional)
  6. Give each player a toy truck or car. Alternately, print and cut out included Truck Game Pieces. (To make them sturdier, print on heavy paper or glue them to cardboard)
  7. Choose a player to go first
  8. Players take turns rolling the die and moving the appropriate number of spaces
  9. The first (or last) player to the finish line is the winner

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-two-tough-trucks-cover

You can find Two Tough Trucks at these booksellers

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million | IndieBound

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-two-tough-trucks-get-lost-cover

Vroom and zoom with Mack and Rig in Two Tough Trucks Get Lost!, a new  adventure coming on September 1! You can preorder it here

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million | IndieBound

 

September 17 – It’s Friendship Month

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-two-tough-trucks-cover

About the Holiday

Established by the Oddfellows, an organization dedicated to philanthropy and charity, about ten years ago, Friendship Month encourages people to spend more time with their friends, get in touch with those they haven’t seen or talked to in a while, and especially to reach out to others who are alone or need a friend. As school gets underway, there are plenty of opportunities for kids to meet new people and form friendships – some of which may last a lifetime.

I received a copy of Two Tough Trucks from Scholastic for review consideration. All opinions are my own. I’m excited to be teaming with Scholastic in a giveaway of the book. See details below.

Two Tough Trucks

Written by Corey Rosen Schwartz and Rebecca J. Gomez | Illustrated by Hilary Leung

 

One morning, two trucks are ready “for their first day of class.” But Rig’s “riding the brakes” while Mack’s “hitting the gas.” In their classroom, their teacher Miss Rhodes pairs these two up for a practice run on the track. First up is the circuit, with twists and a hairpin turn. Rig feels shaky, but Mack’s “a speedy red blur.” Mack picks up speed going into the turn and keeps on going, but Rig hits the brakes and skids off the course.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-two-tough-trucks-meeting

Image copyright Hilary Leung, 2019, text copyright Corey Rosen Schwartz and Rebecca J. Gomez, 2019. Courtesy of Orchard Books.

Next comes learning to downshift while climbing a hill. Mack breezes up as Rig carefully inches along. First to the top, Mack gloats, “‘I knew I was fast.’” And although Rig tried his best he “finished dead last.” Mack thought Rig was just dragging him down. For Rig, Mack just seemed liked a braggart. As he vroomed, Mack fumed and left Rig “in the dust.”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-two-tough-trucks-sharp-curve

Image copyright Hilary Leung, 2019, text copyright Corey Rosen Schwartz and Rebecca J. Gomez, 2019. Courtesy of Orchard Books.

The students moved on to practicing backing up. As they moved around traffic cones,  “they veered and corrected, / they turned and reversed. / Rig had good instincts, but Mack was… the worst.” Rig aced the course, but Mack? He was ready to quit until Rig steered him right. “Vroom! Zoom! / They backtracked and bumped. / A Mack making progress, / a Rig feeling pumped!”

Mack was surprised that Rig had helped him, but for Rig it was just the right thing to do. They headed back to the track and took it by storm. These two trucks were “now the fastest of friends.”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-two-tough-trucks-blundering-mack

Image copyright Hilary Leung, 2019, text copyright Corey Rosen Schwartz and Rebecca J. Gomez, 2019. Courtesy of Orchard Books.

Like life’s road itself, this original story of two trucks with distinct personalities and different strengths has lots of twists and turns and takes little ones on a multilayered journey of discovery. While Mack is rarin’ to go on his first day of truck school, Rig is more hesitant. When these two are teamed up for the day, Mack’s fast and daring approach to the track seems to be the right one as he nails the sharp curve and is the first to reach the peak of the hill, leaving Rig far behind. These early successes cause him to honk his own horn and complain about Rig.

But then in a clever literal and metaphorical reversal, Rig’s thoughtful restraint makes backing up his forte. In Mack’s reaction to being last, Schwartz and Gomez gently ramp up life lessons about perseverance and losing gracefully. In addition, Rig goes on to demonstrate another winning trait in his generosity to teach Mack the finer points of driving in reverse. Mack’s acceptance of Rig’s kindness shows that the experience has taught him to be humble. Kudos to Miss Rhodes for creating a track that leads to strong bonds and friendship.

A book by Schwartz and Gomez always charms with smart rhyming and jaunty rhythms and Two Tough Trucks is no exception. Ingenious puns, evocative and active vocabulary, and plenty of “vrooms” and “zooms” for kids to chime in on make this book a lively read aloud.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-two-tough-trucks-sunset

Image copyright Hilary Leung, 2019, text copyright Corey Rosen Schwartz and Rebecca J. Gomez, 2019. Courtesy of Orchard Books.

Hilary Leung’s textured and boldly colored pages will thrill little readers as Mack and Rig take center stage on the dusty, western track. Mack’s confidence shows in his straight, crisp lines and grinning grill while Rig’s wariness takes the form of wobbly tires, bent frame, furrowed brow, and grimacing grill. Fittingly, the Truck School building is shaped like a parking garage, complete with a spiral ramp that takes students to the second and third story. Cacti, roadrunners, and craggy rock formations dot the sun-drenched desert track where Mack, Rig, and the rest of the students strut their stuff.

A joy to read out loud and offering so much repeat readability, Two Tough Trucks is highly recommended for home bookshelves, preschool and kindergarten classrooms, and public libraries.

Ages 3 – 5

Orchard Books, 2019 | ISBN 978-1338236545

Discover more about Corey Rosen Schwartz and her books on her website.

To learn more about Rebecca J. Gomez and her books, visit her website.

To view a portfolio of work by Hilary Leung and learn more about his work, visit her website.

Friendship Month Activity

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-truck-racing-game-wood

Racing for Friendship Game

Here’s a racing game that kids will love making and playing with friends or family! With poster board, paper, and chalk or other art supplies, kids can place their track in, a city, the country, the desert, or even in outer space! Then get out your own toy cars and trucks to play with or use the printable truck tokens included below. Use a traditional playing die or the included printable 8-sided playing die. The first player to the finish line wins—or shake it up a bit and make the last person to the line the winner.

Supplies

  • Black poster board, thick poster board, or tri-fold display board. I used a 12-inch by 4-foot section of a tri-fold board in my example. This allows you to fold up the board for easier storing.
  • White paper
  • Chalk, crayons, or colored pencils
  • Glue or tape
  • Scissors
  • Toy trucks or cars
  • Printable Truck Tokens (optional)
  • Printable 8-sided Playing Die

Directions

  1. Cut about 30 4- or 5-inch by 1½-inch strips from the white paper
  2. Have kids lay out a track on the board using the white paper strips (each strip is one space) leaving room in between the rows for scenery
  3. Glue or tape the strips in place
  4. Cut trees, buildings, landmarks, or other scenery from paper and color. Glue or tape to board. Alternately, draw scenery on the board with chalk
  5. Print and assemble 8-sided playing die with tape (optional)
  6. Gather one toy truck or car for each player. Alternately, print and cut out included Truck Tokens. (To make them sturdier, print on heavy paper or glue them to cardboard)
  7. Choose a player to go first
  8. Players take turns rolling the die and moving the appropriate number of spaces
  9. The first (or last) player to the finish line is the winner

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-two-tough-trucks-cover

You can find Two Tough Trucks at these booksellers

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million | IndieBound

Picture Book Review

September 5 – National Be Late for Something Day

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-sunny's-tow-truck-saves-the-day-cover

About the Holiday

Established by the Procrastinator’s Club, this holiday encourages people to slow down and even allow themselves to be a little late to that meeting, class, lunch date, or whatever event is on your calendar. Got nothing scheduled for today? Then just take the opportunity to relax. Of course some causes of being late are due to unforeseen circumstances. Still, there’s no reason you can’t enjoy the delay—as the family in today’s book shows!

I received a copy of Sunny’s Tow Truck Saves the Day! from Abrams Appleseed to check out. All opinions are my own. 

Sunny’s Tow Truck Saves the Day!

Written by Anne Marie Pace | Illustrated by Christopher Lee

 

It’s nine o’clock in the morning and a family’s packed up a picnic lunch, clambered into their minivan, and headed out on the open road. “But halfway there…THUMP-BUMPTY…SPLAT! / What’s going on? Our tire’s flat!” No worries, they think—there’s always the spare. But when they look, they discover that tire’s flat too. They check a list of roadside helpers and pick Sunny’s Towing. They make the call and begin to wait.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-sunny's-tow-truck-saves-the-day-tow-truck-operators

Image copyright Christopher Lee, 2019, text copyright Anne Marie Pace, 2019. Courtesy of Abrams Appleseed.

At nine thirty the little boy hears a truck approaching. Is it Sunny? No—it’s a hauler carrying lumber. At ten o’clock the little girl spots another vehicle while her brother munches his sandwich. “Is that her truck? / Just a pickup. Out of luck.” By ten thirty the road is getting busy with construction workers making repairs and other cars traveling here and there. Over the hills black smoke from a fire billows into the sky while Dad enjoys a bite of his lunch.

Mom calls Sunny, who says that she’s so busy it might be noon before she gets to them. In a moment firetrucks and police cars with their sirens blaring speed by. As time passes, they see more trucks—“Tractor trailers, rough and rumbly. / Concrete mixers, tough and tumbly. / Dump trucks filled with piles of muck. But no tow truck. We are stuck.” It’s a good time to have a snack the girl thinks.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-sunny's-tow-truck-saves-the-day-construction-vehicles

Image copyright Christopher Lee, 2019, text copyright Anne Marie Pace, 2019. Courtesy of Abrams Appleseed.

It’s getting close to noon and the family counts down the minutes. Suddenly, they see Sunny approaching. She tows them to her garage, where the tire is changed lickity-split. Finally, the family is ready to enjoy their picnic, but when they look in the cooler all the food has disappeared! Sunny has an idea. She shows the family where the best ice cream is sold, and, with cones in hand, they enjoy a perfect picnic in the park.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-sunny's-tow-truck-saves-the-day-trucks

Image copyright Christopher Lee, 2019, text copyright Anne Marie Pace, 2019. Courtesy of Abrams Appleseed.

With perky rhymes, Anne Marie Pace takes readers on a picnic that doesn’t quite come off as planned. As the family waits by the side of the road for the tow truck to arrive, the little girl and boy enthusiastically point out other vehicles passing by and take in the excitement of the construction work going on beside them. Pace’s verses shine with cleverly paired words, realistic dialog, names of various kinds of cars and trucks, and dynamic verbs that will captivate kids. Readers will love the humor sprinkled throughout that leads to the “Oh, no!” moment when the family discovers they’ve already eaten their picnic. Sunny—with an appropriately sunny personality—saves the day with her delightful dessert idea.

Christopher Lee lends a charming retro feel to his vivid illustrations with funky home decor, old-fashioned ads, and stylized cars and trucks. The family’s emotions are clearly evident—from their smiles as they pack their picnic to the shock of having a flat tire and finding the spare flat as well to their cheerful patience. Images of the various trucks, emergency vehicles, and other cars will thrill vehicle enthusiasts, and the two-page spread of Sunny’s garage, loaded with action and tools, will spark discussion. Humor and details abound on each page, prompting kids to linger, laugh, and learn.

A sweet story that incorporates a love for vehicles, a family outing, and a fresh lesson on patience, Sunny’s Tow Truck Saves the Day! will be a favorite story time read and a fun addition to home, classroom, and public library collections.

Ages 3 – 6

Abrams Appleseed, 2019 | ISBN 978-1419731914

Discover more about Anne Marie Pace and her books on her website.

To learn more about Christopher Lee, his books, and his art, visit his website.

Nationa Be Late for Something Activity

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-tow-truck-puzzle-2

Tow Truck to the Rescue! Matching Puzzle

 

These four cars are going to be late! Can you show the tow truck drivers the way to the right cars in this printable puzzle?

Tow Truck to the Rescue! Matching Puzzle

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-sunny's-tow-truck-saves-the-day-cover

You can find Sunny’s Tow Truck Saves the Day! at these booksellers

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million | IndieBound

Picture Book Review

 

March 5 – It’s National Reading Month

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-sunny's-tow-truck-saves-the-day-cover

About the Holiday

Starting off with Read across America Day on March 2nd, the month celebrates reading, its joys, and benefits. When you read with your child or children every day you’re helping them develop the language and literacy skills that will promote future success in school and beyond. Even if your child isn’t talking yet, they’re listening and learning about their language as you read to them. Older kids also love being read to, and setting aside time to read together builds strong bonds that can last a lifetime. The month is officially marked with special events in schools, libraries, bookstores, and communities that bring authors, illustrators, and educators together with kids. 

I received a copy of Sunny’s Tow Truck Saves the Day! from Abrams Appleseed to check out. All opinions are my own. I’m excited to be partnering with Abrams in an Instagram giveaway of the book. See details below.

Sunny’s Tow Truck Saves the Day!

Written by Anne Marie Pace | Illustrated by Christopher Lee

 

It’s nine o’clock in the morning and a family’s packed up a picnic lunch, clambered into their minivan, and headed out on the open road. “But halfway there…THUMP-BUMPTY…SPLAT! / What’s going on? Our tire’s flat!” No worries, they think—there’s always the spare. But when they look, they discover that tire’s flat too. They check a list of roadside helpers and pick Sunny’s Towing. They make the call and begin to wait.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-sunny's-tow-truck-saves-the-day-tow-truck-operators

Image copyright Christopher Lee, 2019, text copyright Anne Marie Pace, 2019. Courtesy of Abrams Appleseed.

At nine thirty the little boy hears a truck approaching. Is it Sunny? No—it’s a hauler carrying lumber. At ten o’clock the little girl spots another vehicle while her brother munches his sandwich. “Is that her truck? / Just a pickup. Out of luck.” By ten thirty the road is getting busy with construction workers making repairs and other cars traveling here and there. Over the hills black smoke from a fire billows into the sky while Dad enjoys a bite of his lunch.

Mom calls Sunny, who says that she’s so busy it might be noon before she gets to them. In a moment firetrucks and police cars with their sirens blaring speed by. As time passes, they see more trucks—“Tractor trailers, rough and rumbly. / Concrete mixers, tough and tumbly. / Dump trucks filled with piles of muck. But no tow truck. We are stuck.” It’s a good time to have a snack the girl thinks.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-sunny's-tow-truck-saves-the-day-construction-vehicles

Image copyright Christopher Lee, 2019, text copyright Anne Marie Pace, 2019. Courtesy of Abrams Appleseed.

It’s getting close to noon and the family counts down the minutes. Suddenly, they see Sunny approaching. She tows them to her garage, where the tire is changed lickity-split. Finally, the family is ready to enjoy their picnic, but when they look in the cooler all the food has disappeared! Sunny has an idea. She shows the family where the best ice cream is sold, and, with cones in hand, they enjoy a perfect picnic in the park.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-sunny's-tow-truck-saves-the-day-trucks

Image copyright Christopher Lee, 2019, text copyright Anne Marie Pace, 2019. Courtesy of Abrams Appleseed.

With perky rhymes, Anne Marie Pace takes readers on a picnic that doesn’t quite come off as planned. As the family waits by the side of the road for the tow truck to arrive, the little girl and boy enthusiastically point out other vehicles passing by and take in the excitement of the construction work going on beside them. Pace’s verses shine with cleverly paired words, realistic dialog, names of various kinds of cars and trucks, and dynamic verbs that will captivate kids. Readers will love the humor sprinkled throughout that leads to the “Oh, no!” moment when the family discovers they’ve already eaten their picnic. Sunny—with an appropriately sunny personality—saves the day with her delightful desert idea.

Christopher Lee lends a charming retro feel to his vivid illustrations with funky home decor, old-fashioned ads, and stylized cars and trucks. The family’s emotions are clearly evident—from their smiles as they pack their picnic to the shock of having a flat tire and finding the spare flat as well to their cheerful patience. Images of the various trucks, emergency vehicles, and other cars will thrill vehicle enthusiasts, and the two-page spread of Sunny’s garage, loaded with action and tools, will spark discussion. Humor and details abound on each page, prompting kids to linger, laugh, and learn.

A sweet story that incorporates a love for vehicles, a family outing, and a fresh lesson on patience, Sunny’s Tow Truck Saves the Day! will be a favorite story time read and a fun addition to home, classroom, and public library collections.

Ages 3 – 6

Abrams Appleseed, 2019 | ISBN 978-1419731914

Discover more about Anne Marie Pace and her books on her website.

To learn more about Christopher Lee, his books, and his art, visit his website.

Sunny’s Tow Truck Saves the Day! Giveaway

I’m excited to partner with Abrams Appleseed in an Instagram giveaway of:

  • One (1) copy of Sunny’s Tow Truck Saves the Day! written by Anne Marie Pace | illustrated by Christoper Lee

This giveaway is open from March 5 through March 11 and ends at 8:00 p.m. EST.

A winner will be chosen on March 12.

It takes just these two steps to enter:

Prizing provided by Abrams

Giveaway open to U.S. addresses only. | No Giveaway Accounts 

National Reading Month Activity

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-tow-truck-puzzle-2

Tow Truck to the Rescue! Matching Puzzle

Four cars need help! Can you show the tow truck drivers the way to the right cars in this printable puzzle?

Tow Truck to the Rescue! Matching Puzzle

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-sunny's-tow-truck-saves-the-day-cover

You can find Sunny’s Tow Truck Saves the Day! at these booksellers

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million | IndieBound

Picture Book Review