Need a break from that perennial favorite Cars and Trucks and Things That Go? These four new transportation-themed picture books for preschoolers combine well-paced texts, dynamic illustrations, and entertaining stories — the perfect companion for daytime journeys and journeys into night.
Byron Barton‘s My Bus (companion to My Car; Greenwillow, 2–4 years) takes readers along with Joe as he drives Bus #123 across a bold-hued landscape. “At my first stop, one dog gets on my bus. / At my second stop, two cats get on my bus.” After four stops, there are five dogs and five cats onboard. And then…Joe drops off his passengers in ones and twos at a boat, a train, and a plane; the last dog (“My dog!”) goes home with Joe in a car. Each stop offers more excitement for young motorheads (as well as some subtly introduced math concepts). (Greenwillow, 2–4 years)
“Here is the traffic, all ground to a halt, / and the policeman calls out… / ‘What’s causing this holdup? / Move along, now. Move along!’” The vehicles may be at a standstill in William Bee’s And the Cars Go…, but the rhythmic text motors along as the officer investigates the problem. Each double-page spread features a fancifully detailed auto and its idiosyncratic occupants; Bee’s stylish compositions with eye-popping colors have a distinctly sixties vibe. The predictably patterned, onomatopoeic verses encourage audience participation. (Candlewick, 3–6 years)
Charise Mericle Harper’s quirky Go! Go! Go! Stop! stars two traffic lights and a fleet of construction vehicles. Little Green shouts “GO!”, and Bulldozer, Dump Truck, Mixer, and friends get to work. But without a way to not go, things threaten to spiral out of control. Then a red “stranger” rolls onto the site, and disaster is averted — eventually. Harper’s action-packed illustrations feature cheerful trucks in colorful cartoonlike scenes. Lively dialogue adds to the storytime fun. (Knopf, 3–6 years)
Everything Goes: By Sea is the latest in Brian Biggs’s transportation-themed series. Henry and his parents (the intrepid travelers from Everything Goes: On Land and Everything Goes: In the Air) ride a car ferry to their island destination; along the way, they talk about the variety of boats on the water and the jobs those vessels do. There’s a brief (and helpful) explanation of buoyancy, along with some accessible history and a little science/engineering. The pleasingly busy cartoon illustrations are packed with details and visual jokes. Biggs navigates this nautical lesson with a steady hand. (Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins, 3–7 years)
From the March 2014 issue of Notes from the Horn Book.