May 25 – Celebrating the Book Birthday of Whose Big Rig?

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About the Holiday

It’s Get Caught Reading Month – a perfect time to celebrate the book birthday of Whose Big Rig? the fourth book in Toni Buzzeo’s best-selling series for little ones who can’t get enough of learning about tools and vehicles of all kinds. For readers, as summer grows closer, thoughts turn to which new books will be discovered, get tucked away in beach bags or suitcases, and be read again and again. This fun and educational board book is sure to find its way onto all those lists for your youngest readers. 

Thanks to Abrams Appleseed for sharing a copy of Whose Big Rig? with me for review consideration. All opinions about the book are my own.

Review by Dorothy Levine

Whose Big Rig?

Written by Toni Buzzeo | Illustrated by Ramon Olivera

All aboard readers? Get ready to join a friendly construction crew in learning about how to build a light-rail system with all of the tools, trucks, and rigs needed to assemble the tracks. Six big rigs are ready to roll in another stunning, rhyming, information-packed board book by Toni Buzzeo in her WHOSE? series.

Ever stuck in traffic and feeling a bit cranky? Trains can help with car jams by transporting many people at once. So, let’s get to building one! But where to start? With a BIG special piece of machinery that looks like a tube and has a disc cutter, cutterhead, gripper shoe, propel cylinders, and a rear support leg to “build a light-rail by starting down low.” Each part of a light-rail system has a different construction team. So, “Whose Big Rig Is This? Do you know?” It belongs to the tunnel borer team who drill through rocks to make tunnels for underground tracks.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-whose-big-rig-bulldozer

Image copyright Ramon Olivera, 2021, text copyright Toni Buzzeo, 2021. Courtesy of Abrams Appleseed.

Next up a team of workers “dig the channels so water can flow. WHOSE BIG RIG IS THIS? Do you know?” The excavator is labeled with all its main parts, and in the foldout the driver explains, “I dig culverts to drain water away from the tracks.” Further along, the bulldozer driver flattens crushed rock to make the ground smooth, the tie dragon crew places ties on top of the crushed stone, the track maintenance specialists make sure the tracks are level. Then the electricians install the wires that will power the trains.

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Image copyright Ramon Olivera, 2021, text copyright Toni Buzzeo, 2021. Courtesy of Abrams Appleseed.

At last, the light-rail is almost finished, but not quite. “Who’s come to help? It’s YOU. I know!” Two children join in with on the fun, playing with toy miniatures of each rig now learned. They build and zoom and use all the fancy tools, engaging readers to join in with their own creative toys and enthusiasm.

Each page features a new step along the way to building a light-rail system. On the left-hand side signs supply a simple explanation for what the machine does and the question, “Whose big rig is this?” to get kids thinking. On the right-hand side, kids see a labeled illustration of the rig. That page then folds out to reveal the answer of who uses the rig and shows the machine at work.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-whose-big-rig-excavator-open

Image copyright Ramon Olivera, 2021, text copyright Toni Buzzeo, 2021. Courtesy of Abrams Appleseed.

Toni Buzzeo has dedicated this book “all those dedicated to building light-rail lines that move us quickly, safely, and responsibly from place to place.” She creates yet another fun, informative and well-crafted book explaining large concepts to small children in an absorbable manner. A diverse cast of construction workers explain their positions to readers in an engaging speech bubble format. A sequel board book to Whose Tools?, Whose Truck?, and Whose Boat? that follows the fun, read-aloud worthy, guessing game text.

Ramon Olivera “lays the tracks” with durable pages and detailed, colorful up-close rigs. Buzzeo’s text is bordered by construction-site stripes, the introductory information is presented on roadside signage, and funky details (birds, cats, dinosaur bones and more!) are interspersed through the fold-out spreads. The thick board book pages pop with greens, oranges and yellows as well as visually pleasing rig-in-action scenes. Diagrams of each rig are the perfect balance of simple and detailed for the targeted audience as the parts and their functions are visually easy to comprehend and will add to a child’s intuition on how moving parts can work together.

Whose Big Rig? is a perfect addition to any machine-enthused child’s collection, for road trips, libraries, and most of all—train rides!

Ages 2 – 4

Abrams Appleseed, 2021 | ISBN 978-1419742200

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

To learn more about Ramon Olivera, his books, and his art on his website.

Whose Big Rig? Book Birthday Activities

celebrate-picture-books-picture-light-rail-maze

Let’s Ride the Light-Rail Train! Maze

 

This class is taking a field trip! Can you help them find their way to the light-rail train station in this printable puzzle? Then color the kids and their teacher.

Light-Rail Train Maze Easy Puzzle | Light-Rail Train Maze Easy Solution

Light-Rail Train Maze Hard Puzzle | Light-Rail Train Maze Hard Solution

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You can find Whose Big Rig? at these booksellers

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million

To support your local independent bookstore, order from

Bookshop | IndieBound

Picture Book Review

April 13 – It’s the Week of the Young Child

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About the Holiday

2021 marks the 50th anniversary of Week of the Young Child, an annual initiative hosted by the National Association for the Education of Young Children to celebrate learning, young children, their families, and their teachers. Daily themes focus on ways that children learn. These included Music Monday, Tasty Tuesday, Work Together Wednesday, Artsy Thursday, and Family Friday, in which people are encouraged to share their family stories. To get more information on this week-long celebration of kids and discover activities to make each day of the week fun, visit the NAEYC website.

Thanks to Lerner Books for sending me a copy of Let’s Go on a Digger, Let’s Go on a Plane, and Let’s Go on a Train for review consideration. All opinions on the books are my own.

Let’s Go! Series

Each of the books in this upbeat series for youngest readers, which also includes Let’s Go on a Rocket, Let’s Go on a Ferry, and Let’s Go on a Tractor introduces kids to some of the methods of transportation they love to see in the outside world and that spark their imaginations. Combining vocabulary that teaches terms associated with each vehicle, realistic visuals, and a story that shows the vehicle in motion, these books are well-rounded and sweet ways to satisfy any child’s love of transportation. Also inherent in each book are depictions of friendship, teamwork, and adventure. Readers will also like recognizing familiar faces, as the same six kids take part in each book. So let’s get going!

Let’s Go on a Digger

Written by Rosalyn Albert | Illustrated by Natalia Moore

What little one wouldn’t love to climb into a huge machine and dig in the mud? With this bright and cheery board book, kids take over a construction site. From the cab of the digger, a little girl says, “I’ll make a mountain with the mud / All piled in a heap. / I’ll dig a swimming pool-sized hole: / It will be extra deep.” She tells readers that she uses the joysticks to move the boom and shovel.

Then, when the bucket is all full of dirt, she pushes the “drive rods forward / To make the treads move straight.” While two other young workers dig with a shovel and remove dirt with a wheelbarrow, the girl drives the digger to a dump truck, where she lifts the bucket and pours the dirt into the back of the truck. “‘Hooray!’” she exclaims. She’s had such fun on her digger.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-let's-go-on-a-digger-construction-site

Image copyright Natalia Moore, 2021, text copyright Rosalyn Albert, 2021. Courtesy of Catch a Star.

Rosalyn Albert’s engaging rhymes are just right for young readers excited about construction vehicles and how they work. Whether on a big scale or small, digging in the mud is a favorite kid activity, and readers will love learning the words for various parts of a digger while seeing it in action.

Natalia Moore’s vibrant yellow digger and enthusiastic kids in their hardhats and safety vests welcome readers to the construction site where a big project is underway. Kids will love Moore’s depictions of the digger scooping and dumping, the joysticks in the cab, and the caterpillar treads that help the big machine move over muddy ground.

Ages Preschool and up

Lerner Books, 2021 | ISBN 978-1913639112

You can find Let’s Go on a Digger at these booksellers

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million

To support your local independent bookstore, order from

Bookshop | IndieBound

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-let's-go-on-a-plane-cover

Let’s Go on a Plane

Written by Rosalyn Albert | Illustrated by Natalia Moore

At a busy airport, a pilot is almost ready to take off. A flight attendant is about to board, and a luggage handler is ready to load the passenger’s suitcases. From the huge windows of the terminal, two kids, eager for their flight, wave at the pilot and she waves back. As the plane takes off into the sky, the passengers think about how small everything on Earth will look from way up high.

“The engines roar, the wheels go up, / My seatbelt’s fastened tight. / I see the huge wings flying / Up, up, up into the night.” In the clear night sky, the kids see the moon closer than they ever have, and stars seem to be twinkling just for them.” When the pilot invites them into the cockpit, the kids are thrilled to watch her fly the plane. Soon, the plane is “gliding to the ground,” and the kids’ vacation is about to begin.

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Image copyright Natalia Moore, 2021, text copyright Rosalyn Albert, 2021. Courtesy of Catch a Star.

If your little one loves planes or is going to be taking a trip, Rosalyn Albert’s story of a night flight will fill them with the wonder and excitement of air travel. From a smooth ascent and landing to the phenomenon of seeing earth from afar to a visit to the cockpit to meet the pilot, Albert includes all the fun of an airplane trip.

Natalia Moore invites kids to the tarmac of a busy airport where planes wait their turn for takeoff while one plane begins to soar over the city. In the cockpit, kids can see the myriad buttons and dials, the radar screen, and the control stick the pilot uses to fly the plane. As the plane approaches its destination, kids may want to take a guess as to where it’s landing.

Ages Preschool and up

Lerner Books, 2021 | ISBN 978-1913639129

You can find Let’s Go on a Plane at these booksellers

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million

To support your local independent bookstore, order from

Bookshop | IndieBound

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-let's-go-on-a-train-cover

Let’s Go on a Train

Written by Rosalyn Albert | Illustrated by Natalia Moore

On Platform 2 of the train station, two kids wait to board their train. The driver even lets them “help to stoke the fire” by shoveling coal into the furnace. As the train takes off down the tracks, the kids pass fields of sheep, travel “in and out of tunnels, / Over mountains high and green, / Through towns with people waving— / It’s such a pleasant scene.” The inspector checks their tickets, and they get tea from the trolley when it comes by. As they watch out the window, the kids tap their feet to the “click-clack” rhythm of the train. At last, “The station is in sight. / It’s been such an adventure— / I’ll have sweet dreams tonight.”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-let's-go-on-a-train-platform

Image copyright Natalia Moore, 2021, text copyright Rosalyn Albert, 2021. Courtesy of Catch a Star.

From standing on the platform as the powerful train pulls into the station to watching the sights speed by through the windows, Rosalyn Albert’s story of train travel is a thrill. She even includes that favorite response to seeing a train pass by—waving at the passengers. In addition to the sights, Albert also includes the distinctive sounds of train travel, from the whistle to the rhythmic “click-clack” of the wheels. Ending with a nighttime arrival scene, Let’s Go on a Train would make a sweet bedtime read for little train lovers.

Little ones will love Natalia Moore’s big green train and especially getting to see inside where knobs, dials, wheels, and piping control the furnace and the steam that powers the engine. On their long trip the kids see countryside, mountains, and rivers, and they get to partake of a favorite train-trip treat: getting a snack from the trolley or food car. Led by the glow of the lantern out front, the train pulls into the station under a full moon as the little passengers snooze.

Ages Preschool and up

Lerner Books, 2021 | ISBN 978-1913639105

You can find Let’s Go on a Train at these booksellers

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million

To support your local independent bookstore, order from

Bookshop | IndieBound

Week of the Young Child Activity

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-plane-coloring-page  Digger, Plane, and Train Coloring Pages

Grab your crayons or pencils and enjoy these coloring pages of your favorite vehicles

Digger Coloring Page | Plane Coloring Page | Train Coloring Page

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Picture Book Review

March 11 – Worship of Tools Day

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About the Holiday

What would we do without tools? Handheld and big machinery devices help us create buildings, artwork, crafts, and furniture; cook delectable meals; tend the garden; and keep our vehicles and homes in tip-top shape. Even animals use sticks, rocks, and their own paws as tools to get food and build homes. To celebrate today’s holiday make sure your tools are all in order and working, or if you’ve had your eye on a new tool, treat yourself!

Whose Tools?

Written by Toni Buzzeo | Illustrated by Jim Datz

 

There’s a lot of building going on! Where to start? Well, that depends…. “To build a house, start down low” and use these tools: the chalk line, the chisel, the jointer, and the float. “Whose tools are those? The mason’s!” What does he use them for? He’ll tell you himself: “I smooth the cement until it’s flat.” Where do windows go? Way up high! Here are the hammer, the level, the square, and the saw. Can you guess who uses those tools? They belong to the carpenter! He’s cutting the frame where the windows will go.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-whose-tools-foundation

Image copyright Jim Datz, 2015, text copyright Toni Buzzeo, 2015. Courtesy of Harry N. Abrams Books for Young Readers.

It’s important that a house stays dry in rain and snow. What tools help with that? The utility knife, the snips, the nail gun, and the ladder. “Whose tools are those? Do you know?” They’re the roofer’s! What does she do with them? She climbs to the top of the house and nails “the shingles in straight rows.” A house can’t be dark, so the workers will “add some lights that softly glow.” They’ll use a screwdriver, a drill, a linesman pliers, and a wire stripper. Who are they? They’re the electricians! One electrician is busy stringing “the wire from switches to lights.”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-whose-tools-mason

Image copyright Jim Datz, 2015, text copyright Toni Buzzeo, 2015. Courtesy of Harry N. Abrams Books for Young Readers.

A house needs water too! What kinds of tools are used for that? An adjustable wrench, a pipe cutter, pipe tape, and a pipe wrench. And who uses these tools? The plumber! He turns “the pipe elbows until they’re tight” so there are no leaks! The house is almost finished, and now “on all four walls bright colors flow.” What tools are used to make such a pretty house? A brush, a roller, a roller tray, and masking tape. And who uses them? The painter! Right now she’s putting another coat of green paint on the wall. “The house is still not finished, though. Who’s come to build?” Surprise! “It’s you!”

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Image copyright Jim Datz, 2015, text copyright Toni Buzzeo, 2015. Courtesy of Harry N. Abrams Books for Young Readers.

Children are naturally curious about the tools, utensils, and machinery they see adults using. Toni Buzzeo’s delightful board book introduction to twenty-four tools for the youngest readers will capture their interest and imagination with fun prompts and a house-construction project in process. Buzzeo’s enthusiastic language and guess-who format invites multiple readings during which little ones are sure to memorize the names of all the tools and recognize them in the “real world” when they see them.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-whose-tools-roof-fold-out

Image copyright Jim Datz, 2015, text copyright Toni Buzzeo, 2015. Courtesy of Harry N. Abrams Books for Young Readers.

Through Jim Datz’s cheery illustrations, kids watch as a cozy house comes together from foundation to finished as they learn the shape of each tool and see some being used. Questions are introduced on the left-hand page while the particular tools, drawn with sweet, smiling faces, are named on the right. This page opens to a double spread in which both men and women workers are busily and happily plying their trade. The final image will bring a giggle from kids as they discover that the house being built is actually a house of blocks being carefully constructed by a little girl and boy.

Whose Tools? would make a welcome baby gift and a fun addition to home and preschool libraries for little tool lovers.

Ages 2 – 4

Harry N. Abrams, 2015 | ISBN 978-1419714313

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

To view a portfolio of artwork by Jim Datz, visit his website

Worship of Tools Day Activity

Tool-Box-Coloring-Page-[www.getcoloringpages.com]

Terrific Tools! Coloring Pages

 

Tools are terrific when you need to fix something old or build something new! Have fun coloring these tools and their toolbox!

Saw | Wrench | Toolbox

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-whose-tools-cover

You can find Whose Tools? at these booksellers

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million

To support your local independent bookstore, order from

Bookshop | IndieBound

Picture Book Review

September 3 – It’s Read a New Book Month

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About the Holiday

Read a New Book Month is a fantastic time to scour your local bookstore and library for books that have recently been published or books that are new to you. Finding a book that you’ve never read before is exciting at any age, and discovering a new book about a favorite topic is one of life’s greatest pleasures. Today’s book is definitely one that will lift the spirits of all kids who love vehicles and good stories.

Thanks go to Star Bright Books for sending me a copy of The Little Red Crane for review consideration. All opinions about the book are my own. I’m happy to be teaming with Star Bright Books in a giveaway of the book. See details below.

The Little Red Crane

By Cornelius Van Wright

 

One day Dex, a little red crane, and his operator Pete received a letter from a place far away asking for help. The next day they set out to begin their long trip. On the way, Pete had to stop his truck to let their friend Larry the Loader Crane pass by. Larry was delivering steel beams to a construction site where a tall building was going up. He steadied himself with his outriggers so he didn’t tip over. Terry the Telescopic Crane was there too, helping to lift the beams into place. They both wondered if Dex would like to help. “No thanks,’ replied Dex. ‘I’m on my way to an incredibly important BIG job.’”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-the-little-red-crane-letter

Copyright Cornelius Van Wright, 2020, courtesy of Star Bright Books.

When Pete and Dex reached the docks, they met Sam the Ship-Building Crane. He was as tall as a skyscraper and straddled the new ocean liner he was helping to build. Dex would like to have accepted Sam’s invitation to watch, but they were due at Pier 11. When they got there, another giant, Sally the Ship-to-Shore Crane, was waiting to lift Dex and Pete and their truck onto the cargo ship that would take them across the ocean.

After sailing for a few days far out to sea, Dex heard the “sounds of offshore cranes at work” on a huge Oil Rig which was extracting “oil from under the seabed.” Coming close to land at last, the cargo ship passed under a bridge where Dex watched a Floating Crane installing a new section of concrete. Back on land and driving through the city, Dex marveled at the number of cranes he saw. “Giant Tower Cranes were busy helping to construct tall skyscrapers. Dex began to think someone had made a mistake in asking him to come to the city.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-the-little-red-crane-terry

Copyright Cornelius Van Wright, 2020, courtesy of Star Bright Books.

Finally, Pete and Dex arrived at a stately building. Dex felt tiny in the shadow of the mammoth marble columns that flanked the doorway. Inside, Pete used his remote control device to steer “Dex through narrow halls and doorways. Warning: Don’t try this, 18-Wheelers! They stopped in the center of a large room filled with crates. Ahhhhh! It felt good to “unfold and stretch his long legs.”

Carefully, Dex lifted piece after piece from the crates and lifted them into the air so that workers could put them together. Dex may have been little, but he was capable of lifting 2,000 pounds, which came in handy since he had just helped assemble the skeleton of a Tyrannosaurus Rex! Pete congratulated Dex on a job well done, and the museum visitors who streamed in to see the exhibit would agree.

An illustrated guide with fascinating facts about each crane, including alternate names for each, descriptions of how they work, and the amount of weight each can lift or carry, follows the story. 

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-the-little-red-crane-oil-rig

Copyright Cornelius Van Wright, 2020, courtesy of Star Bright Books.

Little fans of big construction vehicles will be awestruck by Cornelius Van Wright’s story and vibrant illustrations. Van Wright understands young reader’s thirst for knowledge, and his straightforward descriptions of the work each type of crane performs are satisfying. The mystery of Dex’s very important job will pique kids’ interest, and the revelation that Dex, because of his small size, is the only kind of crane able to help assemble a dinosaur skeleton is empowering and will delight readers. The pages of back matter are sure to spark further research and learning.

Bold and bright, Van Wright’s illustrations depict realistic and detailed images of each type of crane while the natural formation of grills, headlights, and insignia create the slightly anthropomorphized faces that give each character its personality. In addition to the cranes, Van Wright includes construction materials and proportionate building and ships that allow children to visualize scale. Children will be fascinated by Van Wright’s gorgeous landscapes and seascapes as they learn that cranes work on land as well as on water. Images inside the museum will have kids guessing about the job Dex is about to do, and as he lifts bones and finally the T-rex skull from their crates, you can be sure there will be plenty of exclamations of “Wow!” and “Awesome!”

Sure to fascinate kids interested in vehicles and construction and to have them searching streets and skylines for the real thing, The Little Red Crane is also a unique book for sparking math and early physics extensions on size, scale, measurements, weight, and simple machines for young learners. The book would be a favorite go-to for home, school, and public library collections.

Ages 3 – 6

Star Bright Books, 2020 | ISBN 978-1595728432

To learn more about Cornelius Van Wright, his books, and his art, visit his website.

Follow Dex in this book trailer that’s loads of fun!

The Little Red Crane Giveaway

I’m excited to partner with Star Bright Books in a giveaway of

  • One (1) copy of The Little Red Crane, by Cornelius Van Wright

To enter:

  • Follow Celebrate Picture Books
  • Retweet a giveaway tweet
  • Bonus: Reply with your child’s favorite construction vehicle for extra entry. Each reply earns you one extra entry

This giveaway is open from September 3 to September 10 and ends at 8:00 p.m. EST.

A winner will be chosen on September 11. 

Giveaway open to U.S. addresses only. | Prizing provided by Star Bright Books

Read a New Book Month Activity

IMG_4264

Playful Pulleys

 

Exploring simple machines is fun for kids and a great way to learn about scientific concepts of physics and engineering. With this activity, children can experiment with the idea of pulleys by changing the number of lids the string wraps around, varying the thickness of the string they use, and trying heavy and lighter loads to discover what works and what doesn’t.

Supplies

  • Thick white board or cardboard
  • Plastic jar and bottle lids in various sizes (I used 8 lids)
  • String and/or cord (I used macramé cord). Kids can experiment with various materials, such as ribbon and different weights of string.
  • Binder clip (option: use a small pail or container)
  • Magnet (optional)
  • Small metal items to pick up
  • Hot glue gun or strong glue

Directions

  1. Attach lids to white board or cardboard in a scattered pattern with glue
  2. Cut a 7 or 8-foot length of string or cord
  3. Tie the binder clip to the string, attach the magnet to the bottom
  4. Wrap the string from lid to lid, allowing the two ends of the string to hang free
  5. Pulling the string should raise the binder clip; loosening the string should allow the clip to lower
  6. Put small metal items on the floor and lower the binder clip to pick them up
  7. Have fun experimenting with wrapping the string in various patterns around the lids

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-the-little-red-crane-cover

You can find The Little Red Crane at these booksellers

Amazon | Books-a-Million

To support your local independent bookstore, order from

Bookshop | IndieBound

Picture Book Review

December 13 – Celebrating Read a New Book Month with STEM

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About the Holiday

Today I’m featuring two books that bring the world of big machines down to size for little readers. Being introduced to the various parts of favorite machines and what they do can spark a life-long interest in engineering and its many applications!

The Book of Flying Machines

By Neil Clark

Readers join Clever Cogz and his sidekicks, Nutty and Bolt, as they get up-close to airplanes, hot air balloons, helicopters, supersonic jets, and the latest technological advances to fill the skies. Little ones who love air travel or just watching planes soar through the clouds learn all about the “clever parts” that allow these machines to ascend, fly, descend, and land.

After defining the engine, cockpit, fuselage, tail, rudder, wheels, and fins, Clark presents a closer look at the wings, with all of their moving parts “that work together to control the speed and direction of the plane.” But how does a plane stay in the air? Kids discover that a wing’s special shape allows air to travel “faster over the top than it does underneath,” and that “the slow-moving air under the wing creates a force called lift.”  Clever Cogz reveals that “lift is the force that keeps an aircraft in the air.”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-the-book-of-flying-machines-helicopter

Copyright Neil Clark, 2019, courtesy of QEB Publishing.

Now that the plane is in the air, how does it move forward? Working together, the engine and the propeller use air to create thrust, and budding engineers get to see just how this works. Next, children get to join Nutty and Bolt in a hot air balloon ride and discover how pilots use the science of hot air to make the balloon rise. They also learn the names of the various parts of these beautiful machines that make them work—and allow them to come back down.

No one can resist watching a helicopter hover overhead, and its ability to “take off and land without a run-up” makes it very useful in emergency situations. Readers get to learn about the engine, the landing skids, the rescue hoist, and the two rotors that provide the power for this unique machine while Bolt comes to Nutty’s aid on his sinking boat. Kids fascinated by speed will love learning about the various types of jets that “travel at supersonic speeds—faster than the speed of sound” and the definition of Mach 1, against which they can compare the speed of jets that fly at Mach 3.3, 6.7, and even 9.6.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-the-book-of-flying-machines-supersonic

Copyright Neil Clark, 2019, courtesy of QEB Publishing.

Of course, kids are familiar with drones, so they’ll be eager to discover how three different types—one that can even predict storms. Finally, flying here and there powered by a jet pack may seem like science fiction, but “real ones have been built for the army, for astronauts, and for spectacular stunt shows,” including the Bell Rocket Belt, which can fly up to 60 mph (95 kmph) and the Jetman, invented by Yves Rossy, that can fly at 100 mph (160 kmph). Along the way, bits of trivia about the history and facts of air flight give kids even more information. A short quiz on the last page lets readers show off what they’ve learned.

Ages 5 – 7

QEB Publishing, 2019 | ISBN 978-0711243446

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The Book of Diggers & Dozers

By Neil Clark

 

Clever Cogz, Nutty, and Bolt are back in this book all about working machines. From backhoe loaders to excavators to bulldozers to the giants and the latest tech wonders, Neil Clark takes readers above and below ground to see how these machines work. Take a moment to get to know the intricate parts of a backhoe, which can lift the weight of three cars with its front loader and dig deep holes with its hydraulic-powered bucket in the back. The spinning seat in the cab makes it easy for the operator to do both jobs! What are hydraulics? Dog Clever Cogz, Nutty, and Bolt demonstrate the concepts on a backhoe and with a water gun.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-the-book-of-diggers-and-dozers-clever-cogz

Copyright Neil Clark, 2019, courtesy of QEB Publishing.

Little ones know tractors belong on farms, but they’ll be surprised at how many jobs they can do using different attachments. There’s even a hole digger that makes planting trees much easier. The excavator may be best known for the tracks that wrap around sprockets and allow it to move over bumpy ground, but its bucket deserves some attention too. It has “an extra part called a thumb” that “turns the bucket into a giant claw, perfect for grabbing things.” Did you know that there are “new, electric powered excavators that will help keep our planet clean?”

The tallest machines are cranes—and “the biggest mobile crane is over 800 feet (245 m) high.” Nutty tells kids “that’s as tall as 50 giraffes standing on top of each other!” A crane’s height and power help it move objects too heavy to move any other way. When roads need fixing and repaving, it’s time to break out the road roller. These useful machines have been around since 1800, when horses pulled them. The steamroller was invented in 1865, and the diesel-powered version came along in 1950. The new road rollers are electric and better for the environment.

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Copyright Neil Clark, 2019, courtesy of QEB Publishing.

Fans of the bulldozer will see what a powerhouse this machine really is. With high tracks to allow it to travel through muddy ground, a ripper that claws at the ground and breaks up big lumps of earth, and a blade that can push piles of rock or sand or even knock down a building, the bulldozer is multi-functional. Whoa! Have you seen the Bagger 293? “It’s the biggest digger in the world” and its bucket wheel can dig “240,000 tons of coal a day.” It’s so big that it requires as much electricity as a whole town and needs 5 people to control it. Today, robot diggers controlled remotely, such as sensors, demolition bots, and the XE15R, are also taking on tasks in dangerous, tight, or other situations. A final quiz lets children review what they’ve learned.

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Copyright Neil Clark, 2019, courtesy of QEB Publishing.

Neil Clark’s fascinating looks at aircraft and the biggest machines will delight vehicle lovers of all types. His straightforward text is accessible for all ages while introducing children to vocabulary and concepts that empower them to understand the workings of not only these big machines but smaller, everyday machines as well. Loaded with information and hosted by charming characters who lend a bit of humor to the pages, Clark’s books are wonderful for dipping into again and again.

Clark’s vivid illustrations clearly mark and define the parts of each machine and demonstrate how these work together to power the machine and allow it to perform its job. Nutty and Bolt are there to translate some of the concepts into ideas kids are already familiar with (for example, Nutty wears big shoes to demonstrate the function of a backhoe’s stabilizers). Similarly, Clark incorporates easy-to-understand graphics to explain scientific concepts like air flow and the clustering of hot and cold air molecules. Boxed information and speech bubbles add interest to the pages. One even invites kids to a “where’s Waldo” type of hunt for Nutty and Bolt near a jumbo jet.

Terrific books for introducing all children to machines, how they work, and the science behind them, The Book of Flying Machines and The Book of Diggers & Dozers would be valuable additions to home, classroom, and public library collections. Check out the other books in the series: The Book of Cars and Trucks and The Book of Space Rockets.

Ages 5 – 7

QEB Publishing, 2019 | ISBN 978-071124341

Read a New Book Month with STEM Activity

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Big Machines Coloring Pages

 

Children can have fun coloring and adding their own touches to these printable pages.

Airplane | Hot Air Balloon | Digger | Crane

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You can find The Book of Flying Machines at these booksellers

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

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You can find The Book of Diggers & Dozers at these booksellers

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

Picture Book Review

June 18 – Father’s Day

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About the Holiday

While celebrations of Mother’s Day caught on very quickly after the first ceremony in 1908, proclaiming Father’s Day as a national institution took a little longer. On July 19, 1910 the governor of Washington State held the first Father’s Day event. In 1916 President Woodrow Wilson, trying to attract attention to the holiday with a little technology, unfurled a flag in Spokane, Washington by pushing a button in Washington DC. This clever ploy, however, did not convince the men of the time, who scoffed at a holiday dedicated to fathers as somehow too “domesticated” and “unmanly.” During World War II celebrating Father’s Day began to be seen as a way to honor American troops and to help the war effort. The holiday then entered the mainstream, but it wasn’t until 1972, when President Richard Nixon signed a proclamation, that Father’s Day became a federal holiday.

The Best Part of Daddy’s Day

By Claire Alexander

 

Little Bertie is proud to introduce his daddy to readers. His dad is a builder who drives diggers and trucks every day. Today he’s going to be in a crane high up in the sky working on a tall tower. “When I’m big,” Bertie says, “I want to be a builder just like him….” But right now Bertie’s dad is dropping him off at school. “‘Have a good day, Bertie!’” he says as he gives his son a hug.

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Image copyright Claire Alexander, 2016, courtesy of simonandschuster.com

With the BRRRIIING of the bell, Bertie runs into class, where he’s in for a surprise. “‘Today we’re going to be builders,’” his teacher tells her class, and Bertie knows it’s going to be a great day! First the teacher reads “an exciting story about a digger” then Bertie paints a picture of a crane like his daddy’s. But just as he’s finishing it, a classmate with paint on his shoes tracks green footprints across the paper.

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Image copyright Claire Alexander, 2016, courtesy of simonandschuster.com

At lunchtime Bertie trips over his shoelace and spills his lunch. His great day is having some bumps along the way, and Bertie wishes he could see his daddy. Bertie knows just what to do. He runs to the playground and climbs “up, up, UP…to the top of the jungle gym.” Bertie is so high up he “can see the top of Daddy’s tower!” Bertie can even see someone driving the crane and knows it must be his dad.

After lunch the class constructs an enormous tower. Bertie pretends to be a small crane, while his teacher, in her high-heeled shoes, is a big crane, able to place boxes higher and higher. The building they make is amazing! As the day progresses it begins to rain, but when Bertie’s dad picks him up he gives Bertie his hat to keep his ears dry. Bertie is excited to tell his dad about building the tower—it was the best part of his day, he says.

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Image copyright Claire Alexander, 2016, courtesy of simonandschuster.com

At home Bertie tells his dad “the not so good parts” of his day—about his spoiled painting and about tripping and falling. “‘I bet things like that never happen to you, Daddy,’” Bertie says. “‘Well, actually…they do sometimes!’” Bertie’s dad answers, and he tells his son about the bumps in his day—how someone walked across his new, wet cement floor and that he also tripped and fell over an untied shoelace, just like Bertie. But then, his dad says, he went back up in the crane and “‘finished my tower, and I think I saw you, Bertie, on the jungle gym!’”

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Image copyright Claire Alexander, 2016, courtesy of clairealexander.com

“‘It WAS me, Daddy!” Bertie exclaims. Then he asks his dad “if the best part of his day was finishing the tower.” His dad looks at his son snuggled on his lap and answers, “‘Actually, the best part of my day is right now, being here with you, Bertie.” Bertie agrees. “‘I think this is the best part of my day, too.”

Claire Alexander hits all the right notes in her heartfelt tribute to loving father-son relationships. Perfectly paced toward an emotional surprise twist, Alexander’s story is sweet and satisfying. The open communication between father and son adds poignancy, and the truth that while kids are inspired by their parents, parents are equally inspired by their kids may amaze children and will bring a lump to parents’ throats. This father and son aren’t just building towers, they’re building a life-long bond.

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Image copyright Claire Alexander, 2016, courtesy of clairealexander.com

Alexander’s vivid, cheerful watercolor illustrations glow with the enthusiasm and love that Bertie and his dad feel for each other. Large two-page spreads invite kids into Bertie and his dad’s world as they eat breakfast together in the tidy kitchen, say goodbye outside the school gate, and read together in their comfy, overstuffed chair. Kids will love the view of Bertie’s playground with the gleaming glass tower and red crane rising above it and the sweeping vista of the city as seen by Bertie’s dad from atop the crane. A vertical spread of the tall tower Bertie’s class builds adds a fun element to the story and emphasizes the tower’s height for young children. 

The Best Part of Daddy’s Day  is an excellent addition to a child’s bookshelf and makes a wonderful gift. It will quickly become a favorite for bedtime or story time.

Ages 3 – 8

little bee books, 2016 | ISBN 978-1499801965

To see more of adorable books for children by Claire Alexander visit her website!

Father’s Day Activity

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I Love Dad Building Blocks

 

This craft will stack up to be a favorite with kids! With wooden blocks and a little chalkboard paint, it’s easy to make unique building materials. They’re great for gifts, decorating, party favors, or when you just have a little time to play!

Supplies

  • Wooden blocks in various sizes, available from craft stores
  • Chalkboard paint in various colors
  • Paint brush
  • Chalk in various colors

Directions

  1. Paint the wooden blocks with the chalkboard paint, let dry
  2. Write words or draw pictures on the blocks
  3. Have fun!

Picture Book Review

February 24 – National Engineering Week

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About the Holiday

National Engineering Week was established to promote a better understanding of and appreciation for engineering and technical careers to ensure a diverse and well-educated workforce for the future. Several programs throughout the week highlight communication between engineers and the public, the work of young professional and student engineers, and a future-city contest for middle school students. Our future depends on our having talented engineers to solve problems and create new solutions.

Tinyville Town Gets to Work!

By Brian Biggs

 

It seems there’s trouble in Tinyville Town! Every day the baker creates delicious treats, the trash collectors pick up trash, the bus driver takes riders to their various jobs, and everyone else goes to work and school or runs errands. But today the bus is late, and when Mayor Murphy tries to find out why, he also discovers that the trash collectors can’t haul the trash away and the bakery can’t open it’s doors. Why? Because there’s an enormous traffic jam on the Tinyville Town bridge.

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Image and text copyright Brian Biggs, courtesy of Harry N. Abrams

“‘We need a new bridge!’” the townspeople shout. “Mayor Murphy knows just what to do. He meets with Tinyville Town’s engineer and city planner.” The engineer tells the mayor that “‘the old bridge was built when Tinyville Town was much smaller.” Now they need “‘a bridge that is wider so that more cars, trucks, and buses can get across.’” The city planner agrees and adds that the bridge should be stronger.He also assures the mayor that they can also make it beautiful by adding large steel arches.

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Image and text copyright Brian Biggs, courtesy of Harry N. Abrams

Mayor Murphy announces the plan to the news media and invites the citizens to “get to work!” First the excavation crew digs deep holes near the banks of the river so a strong foundation can be laid for the piers. Then a crane operator lifts heavy stones so the stonemasons can put them into place on the piers. Next it’s time for the ironworkers to join in. They build the structure and the big steel arches that “look beautiful and make the bridge much stronger than the old one.” Finally, the road crew paves the road and paints lines to mark the lanes for the cars, trucks, and buses that will drive over it.

When the bridge is finished everyone in Tinyville Town comes out to watch Mayor Murphy cut the ribbon and open the bridge. “‘Hurray!’” they all cheer as they cross over their shiny new bridge.

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Image and text copyright Brian Biggs, courtesy of Harry N. Abrams

Little would-be engineers and builders as well as any town or city citizens will be captivated by Brian Biggs’ introduction to the inner workings of a town in need of a new bridge. With infrastructure and road work going on in most towns and cities throughout the year, Biggs’ accessible story is a perfect way to explain to youngest readers the whys and hows of the construction work they see as they travel from place to place. The diversity of workers provides welcome inclusiveness and role models for children. The upbeat philosophy of this little town is even reflected in the book’s title, in which the phrase “Gets to Work” can be read two ways.

Biggs’ friendly town on the banks of a river is homey and cute and immediately inviting to his young audience. With bright colors, crisp details, and smiling people, Tinyville Town is a place kids will want to visit again and again. Tinyville Town Gets to Work is one of three in this new series that also includes Tinyville Town: I’m a Veterinarian and Tinyville Town: I’m a Firefighter.

Ages 2 – 5

Harry N. Abrams, 2016 | ISBN 978-1419721335

You’ll find a world of books, drawings, comics, and more on Brian Biggs’ website!

Visit Tinyville Town with this Tinyville Town Gets to Work book trailer!

National Engineering Week Activity

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Build a Remarkable Recycled Bridge

 

You don’t need fancy blocks and construction materials to build a bridge! Little ones will be fascinated to put together a bridge made out of items you already have at home or that may even be slated for the recycle bin. Spaghetti boxes make great roadways, and cut-up egg cartons can be used as supports. Want to build a whole town? Cereal boxes and pasta boxes make skyscrapers, apartment buildings, fire stations, and more. Need a farm silo? Grab a peanut butter jar or aluminum can. You can use them as is or—if your kids are sticklers for a little more detail—add a little paint! So look around, use your imagination, and get creative!

Picture Book Review