Wednesday, June 9, 2010

The Little Blue Truck

by Alice Schertle
illustrated by Jill McElmurry
Publisher: Harcourt Children's Books (2008)

A friendly blue truck drives down a country lane happily greeting his animal friends along the way. As the rain clouds roll in, a self-important dump truck comes speeding along with nary a nod for anyone, let alone a kind hello. When Dump's carelessness gets him stuck in the muck none of the animals are interested in helping him out. Along comes Little Blue to take on the improbable task of freeing the enormous Dump. Instead poor Little Blue gets himself stuck right along with Dump. All the animals come rushing to answer Little Blues beep beep beep for help, and together they teach Dump an important lesson about friendship and being a good neighbour.

McElmurry's folksy illustrations are what sets this book apart. I grabbed it off the book shelf and bought it before reading a single line. An odd thing for me to do since I'm usually more interested in prose (yes, even in children's books). But this book is all about the rustic charm of the pictures, with rich colours and homespun details reminiscent of decorative folk art.

Luckily, the writing is nearly as charming as the illustrations. The light hearted cadence keeps what could have been an overly preachy tale well-grounded; while a cacophony of beeps, quacks, moos and maas provide plenty of opportunity for a lively and interactive reading. Its inviting rhythms make it a pleasure to read out loud and easy for small to children to follow along

All in all, a most delightful find.

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