Review of The Old Truck

The Old Truck
by Jarrett Pumphrey and Jerome Pumphrey; illus. by the authors
Preschool, Primary    Norton    40 pp.
1/20    978-1-324-00519-3    $17.95
e-book ed.  978-1-324-00520-9    $12.15

The author-illustrator brothers tell the story of a family farm and the truck that assists with chores. As the hard-working truck ages, so does the farming couple’s young daughter. The two are a pair, making this story, despite the title, as much hers as it is the vehicle’s. The Pumphreys allow their retro, earth-toned illustrations room to breathe in an uncluttered, gently paced presentation. Rendered via a mixture of low-tech (hand carved stamps…) and high (…which are then digitally manipulated), the illustrations are infused with cheer (the farmers are always smiling) and playfulness. As a young child, the girl imagines spectacular adventures with the sturdy truck. In a series of three spreads, as she sleeps snug in her bed, we are privy to her dreams — of her and the shape-shifting truck on the ocean, in the air, and in space. As an adult, she becomes the “new farmer” who pulls the tired, neglected truck out of the weeds to rehabilitate it. It’s refreshing to see an African American farming family depicted in a picture book, as well as determined, resilient women who farm. The final spread shows a child (who appears to be the woman’s daughter) on the bed of the newly remodeled truck, representing the next generation of industrious farmers.

From the March/April 2020 Horn Book Magazine.

Julie Danielson
Julie Danielson
Julie Danielson writes about picture books at the blog Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast. She also writes for Kirkus Reviews and BookPage and is a lecturer for the School of Information Sciences graduate program at the University of Tennessee. Her book Wild Things!: Acts of Mischief in Children’s Literature, written with Betsy Bird and Peter D. Sieruta, was published in 2014.

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