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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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

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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

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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.”

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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

April 8 – It’s Read a Road Map Week

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

 

January 7 – Scooper and Dumper Book Tour Stop

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About the Holiday

For authors and illustrators, the launch of a new book is the culmination of what can be years of thinking, creating, and collaborating before finally enjoying the excitement of seeing their efforts on bookstore shelves. Celebrating this accomplishment is always a joy! Today, I’m excited to be a tour stop for Lindsay Ward’s latest picture book – a story about true friendship that kids will love to share this winter and all year around. 

Thanks to Two Lions and Blue Slip Media for sending me a copy of Scooper and Dumper for review consideration. All opinions on the book are my own. I’m also excited to be participating in a giveaway of the book. See details below.

Scooper and Dumper

By Lindsay Ward

 

The town lies blanketed in snow and Scooper and Dumper are revving up. They are “the best of friends, / working together, / take care of their town / in any weather.” Scooper digs in with her teeth to pick up rock salt and pour it into Dumper’s deep bed even before the town awakes. Dumper heads out to clear and salt the roads, while Scooper—who’s too slow to be on the streets—stays in the salt yard ready for when Dumper needs a refill.

Then a call comes in from the big city: “We’re out of salt. / Cars and trucks / are at a halt,” Scooper alerts Dumper who answers “Dumper here— / let’s rock ‘n’ roll! / Big city’s callin’ for / some small-town soul.” As Scooper loads up Dumper they sing their song: “Clear the road. / Salt the street. / Work together, / can’t be beat!” Then Dumper is on his way to the city, where cars on their way to work and school follow in the path he makes. All finished, he calls back to Scooper that he’s on his way home, but because of the howling wind, she doesn’t hear the call.

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Image copyright Lindsay Ward, 2021, courtesy of Two Lions.

The snow has come down fast and thick, blocking the view and making the streets icy. Suddenly, Dumper comes upon a pileup and can’t stop in time. His wheels slip, he veers and tips over. He calls for Tow Truck, but he can’t get through either. Meanwhile Scooper is growing worried. But there’s no one else to help. It’s up to her to find her friend. Finally, she tells herself, “‘Come on, wheels! / I have to try / before this snow / piles up too high.’” She lowers her bucket and slowly steams ahead.

Stuck in a snowbank, Dumper shivers. Then he sees a glow and hears a familiar song “Clear the road. / Salt the street. / Work together, / can’t be beat!” Dumper perks up as Scooper digs Dumper out and rights him with her strong bucket. Back on his wheels, Dumper helps Scooper rescue the other cars and clear the road. “Cars and trucks now safe and sound. / Scooper ‘n’ Dumper / homeward bound.”

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Image copyright Lindsay Ward, 2021, courtesy of Two Lions.

For young truck and vehicle lovers or anyone with a caring best friend, there is much to love in Lindsay Ward’s Scooper and Dumper. Ward’s snowy-day setting establishes a perfect scenario for her story of cooperation, courage, and friendship. As both Scooper and Dumper display their individual strengths in bringing help to the town and city, readers see how their own talents when teamed with a friend or group can move mountains and pave a clear path for themselves and others to succeed. When Scooper realizes that it’s up to her to rescue Dumper, kids get a sweet and convincing lesson on overcoming self-doubt and fear to help a friend. Ward’s dynamic rhymes incorporate action, dialogue, and plenty of suspense to keep readers turning the pages, and the calls from vehicle to vehicle deepen the idea of teamwork so important to the story. Kids will also love to read along with Scooper and Dumper’s signature song.

Ward’s icy-blue-toned illustrations, frosted with fluffy snowflakes, will thrill kids who love nothing more than getting outside on a snowy day. Scooper and Dumper are endearing, with friendly and enthusiastic faces created from their headlights and grills. Her images of the multi-car pileup and Dumper’s accident are dramatic and will move kids to empathize with those in need of help while also showing the comfort friends bring in times of trouble.

Scooper and Dumper, an original story about friendship, bravery, and teamwork for exhilarating and thoughtful story times, is highly recommended for home, classroom, and public library collections.

Ages 3 – 7

Two Lions, 2021 | ISBN 978-1542092685

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Lindsay Ward is the creator of the Dexter T. Rexter series, as well as Rosie: Stronger than Steel, This Book Is Gray, Brobarians, Rosco vs. the Baby, and The Importance of Being 3. Her book Please Bring Balloons was also made into a play. Lindsay lives with her family in Peninsula, Ohio, where vehicles such as Scooper and Dumper take care of the roads all year-round. You can connect with Lindsay on

Her website | Twitter | Instagram

Scooper and Dumper Giveaway

I’m happy to be teaming with Two Lions and Blue Slip Press in a giveaway of:

  • One (1) copy of Scooper and Dumper by Lindsay Ward

To enter:

  • Follow Celebrate Picture Books
  • Retweet a giveaway tweet
  • Bonus: Reply with your favorite winter activity for extra entry

This giveaway is open from January 7 to January 14 and ends at 8:00 p.m. EST.

A winner will be chosen on January 15. 

Prizing provided by Two Lions and Blue Slip Media

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

Scooper and Dumper Book Tour Activity

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-snowflake-matching-puzzle

It’s Snowing! Matching Puzzle

 

If a snow day is your favorite kind of day, you’ll enjoy finding the pairs of identical snowflakes in this printable puzzle.

It’s Snowing! Matching Puzzle

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-scooper-and-dumper-cover

You can find Scooper and Dumper 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

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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.

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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. 

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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.

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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. 

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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 3 – It’s Read a New Book Month

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

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

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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

May 13 – It’s National Pet Month

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-where'd-my-jo-go-cover

About the Holiday

Let’s give a shout-out to our best friends! Who are they? Our pets, of course! Small (or large) and fury (or feathered or scaled or finned), our pets give us unconditional love and loads of happiness. Just watching them navigate their day is entertaining and educational. National Pet Month was established to celebrate these in-home pals and remind pet owners to ensure that their pets have everything they need to live a long and healthy life. This month take extra time to have fun with your pet!

Where’d My Jo Go?

Written by Jill Esbaum | Illustrated by Scott Brundage

 

Jo and Big Al traveled everywhere together in her big rig. One day, though, as Jo was checking out the equipment at the truck stop, Big Al went exploring. While Jo got in the cab to “adjust a mirror, set the map. / Pull the belt across my lap. / Let another trucker pass. / Shift the gears, give ‘er gas,” Big Al had time at the park to “dodge a herd of stompy feet. / Sneak a lick of someone’s treat. / Chase a wrapper. Dig in dirt. / Give a tree a little squirt.”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-where'd-my-jo-go-hounds

Image copyright Scott Brundage, 2020, text copyright Jill Esbaum, 2020. Courtesy of Sleeping Bear Press.

After all that fun, Big Al knew it was time to get back to Jo and the truck, but when he reached the truck stop, his truck was nowhere to be found. He pondered: should he try to find his Jo? But decided it would be better to wait. Besides, he knew she’d be back for the “little doggie pal… / who shares her lunch, who guards the truck, / whose head she rub-rub-rubs for luck.” Big Al was sure Jo would return. “But…when?” He sat patiently at the truck stop guard rail overlooking the highway and watched the trucks come and go—but none of them were his.

Meanwhile, Jo had reached her destination. She called to Big Al to wake him up. But then she looked…and looked again. Where was Big Al?! At that moment, Al was running away from a “too-loud kid” who wanted to kiss him and take him home with her. As the day grew long and the sun began to set, the parking lot emptied, and Big Al wondered where his Jo could be. “Oh, Jo. Please, Jo, remember me. / No trucks. No people. Spooky. Late. / Chase a june bug. / Shiver. Wait.”

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-where'd-my-jo-go-highway

Image copyright Scott Brundage, 2020, text copyright Jill Esbaum, 2020. Courtesy of Sleeping Bear Press.

Just then a car pulled in and a boy, Zach, got out. He spotted Big Al and grabbed a stick. He threw it for Al, who “Can. Not. Resist.” Zach thinks Al is lost and begs his dad to let him keep him. Big Al thinks “I should not, cannot, will not go. / But ohhh, I like Zack. Hurry, Jo.” It looks as if Big Al and Zack will become a team when, just in the nick of time, a truck appears. Could it be? “Onk-onk!Onk onnnnnnnnk!” Big Al says, “Yip-yip! Bye, Zack! I have to go! / I knew she’d come! It’s her! My Jo!”

An Author’s Note reveals the real-life event that sparked Jill’s imagination and led to her story. She also invites readers to try a prompt and write their own story.

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-where'd-my-jo-go-Zack

Image copyright Scott Brundage, 2020, text copyright Jill Esbaum, 2020. Courtesy of Sleeping Bear Press.

Children will fall in love with Big Al as soon as they meet him. Full of curiosity and with a personality befitting his name, Big Al is a busy pup as he gets into mischief at a park near the truck stop. But when he returns to find his Jo is gone, he patiently waits, certain that she’ll be back. Jill Esbaum’s jaunty rhymes are as playful as Big Al, and readers will be charmed to follow the story from his point of view. Kids with pets will recognize all the small, special moments that people and pets share and be as eager for Jo’s return as Big Al. Esbaum adds humor and suspense as two kids interact with Big Al, making the just-in-the-nick-of-time reunion all the sweeter and more satisfying.

With his expressive eyes and funny antics, Scott Brundage’s adorable Big Al will charm children and have them rooting for his reunion with Jo throughout the story. Snapshots of Big Al and Jo sharing fun on their trips show their special bond and will melt readers’ hearts, and they’ll commiserate with Jo when she realizes that Big Al is missing. Vehicle-loving kids will be fascinated by the realistic images of big rigs in the truck stop and traversing the crisscrossing highways. Brundage makes the story into a visual roller-coaster (in the best way), and the final spread of Jo and Big Al together again will have kids shouting, let’s do it again!

For pet lovers, vehicle lovers, and anyone who has a best friend, Where’d My Jo Go? Is must reading. It would make a heartwarming addition to home, school, and public library bookshelves.

Ages 5 – 7

Sleeping Bear Press, 2020 | ISBN 978-1534110441

Discover more about Jill Esbaum and her books on her website.

To learn more about Scott Brundage, his books, and his art, visit his website.

National Pet Month Activity

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-Peppy-Puppies-Match-Up-Puzzle

Peppy Puppies Match Up Puzzle

 

These puppies want to find a friend. Can you match the ones that go together in this printable puzzle? There may be more that one right answer!

Peppy Puppies Match Up Puzzle

celebrate-picture-books-picture-book-review-where'd-my-jo-go-cover

You can find Where’d My Jo Go? at these booksellers

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million

To support your local independent bookstore order from

Bookshop | IndieBound

Picture Book Review