Got Excavators? These Two Books Do
I went through most of my life blissfully unaware of the divine differences between front loaders and backhoes, and couldn’t pick an excavator out of a crowd of ten-ton trucks. But my sons have changed all that. Despite my sometimes less than enthusiastic responses, they schooled me in the world of work machines. They showed me giant caterpillar tracks in the mud, and made me pull over at numerous construction sites to marvel at the spin of a cement mixer or the crazy height of a crane.
I have to admit after ten years of raising truck-loving boys, their enthusiasm and adoration is rubbing off. What’s not to love about big, tough, loud machines that can move giant stones and crash down buildings. After all, I adore my own little wrecking balls.
My four-year old is currently in a serious truck crush. When he’s not playing with trucks, or listening for trucks, he’s looking at books about trucks. Two books in heavy rotation right now feature the all-glorious excavator on their covers. While my son loves the collection of work machines within each story, I love how the rhyme, rhythm, and repetition make these picture books highly readable, and easy for me to say yes, when I’m asked to read them again and again and again.
Demolition, written by Sally Sutton and illustrated by Brian Lovelock (Candlewick Press, 2012), is full of activity as a demolition crew and their heavy work machines demolish an abandoned building, reuse supplies, and haul away the scrap. Both male and female workers of different ethnicities are on the scene, wearing hard hats, driving machinery, and assisting on the ground. The story ends with a kid-perfect solution to the now-open space when the greening crew plant trees and construct a playground.
The short, rhyming quatrains keep the story moving. Repeating phrases in the first lines, like “”Swing the ball. Swing the ball.” and a trio of sound effects in the last lines, like “Rip! Roar! Crash!” are easy to memorize, fun to say, and geared for young readers to join in the telling.
The illustrations rendered in pigmented inks portray the work machines in real-life form and show just what a high-reach excavator, bulldozer, and mobile crusher can do. Demolition is highly recommended for young truck lovers, especially those that appreciate a good smash up. We also love Sutton and Lovelock’s previous picture book, Roadwork (Candlewick Press, 2008), which uses the same word and picture format to detail the building of a road.
At the end of a busy day, even work machines have to go to bed. It’s sunset at the construction site, and in their picture book, Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site (Chronicle Books, 2011), author Sherri Duskey Rinker and illustrator Tom Lichtenheld show young readers how rough and tough trucks power down and snuggle up.
Rhyming text describes various work machines from crane trucks to cement mixers to the beloved excavator as they end their work and ready themselves for bed. The steady rhythm and repetitive goodnight chorus give the story a rocking, sleepy-time melody just right for tucking in young work machines at bedtime.
The illustrations portray each construction vehicle with a range of facial expressions, serious by day and tender by night. Bits of whimsy will delight tough little truckers, from the tiny teddy bear clutched in the metal arms of the crane truck and the polka-dotted blankie on top of the cement mixer to the dumper’s snores and the excavator’s snaggle tooth. The soft wax oil pastels give the pictures a warm tone and contribute to the cozy feel of this truck lover’s bedtime book.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Cheli has been involved with creative arts and education for most of her life, and has taught many subjects from art and books to yoga and zoology. But she has a special fondness for kid’s books, and has worked in the field for more than 20 years. She is a freelance writer and regular contributor to Valley Kids and teaches a course for adults in “Writing for Children.” She writes from Colrain, where she lives with her musician-husband, three children, and shelves full of kid’s books.