Shannon, David, et. al. Jon Scieszka’s Trucktown: Who’s That Truck? Little Simon: 2008
Who’s That Truck? is an introduction to just a few the characters of Trucktown. The characters are fun to read aloud and introduce in your best announcer’s voice. The names are fun to say in general, such as Dump Truck Dan. The illustrations bring the trucks to life and give personality to them.
There are 14 characters in the various books, and this book introduces six of them. There is Jack Truck, Dump Truck Dan, Payloader Pete, Monster Truck Max, Cement Mixer Melvin, and Garbage Truck Gabriella.
VROOM! follows the same characters first introduced in Who’s That Truck? The goal is to teach road signs and their corresponding colors. There are pop out signs on each page, and on the final page, there is a puzzle, of sorts, where the youngster can put the signs in their correct spots around Trucktown.
This book combines a lot of information for little minds. Not only are they learning that a stop sign is red but they are learning that red signs “mean rules…no dumping, no stopping, no parking.”
One can view the information as overwhelming or as an opportunity to reinforce the lessons with many readings. The puzzle pieces are a great way to reinforce the ideas.
Meet Jack Truck! is an introduction to the series’ main character, as well as more information about a few of the other characters of Trucktown. Each page gives the reader insight into the personality of the trucks and things they like to do. While Ladybug loves the idea of this series and its goal to teach pre-schoolers valued lessons, this particular book falls down on the job.
Ladybug is at a loss to determine what this book is attempting to teach, except perhaps bad manners. Jack Truck seems to this reader to be rude and selfish, not thinking about what his friends like but only what he likes. For example,
Jack loves falling rocks!
Jack also likes slippery pavement and spaghetti roads.
Cement Mixer Melvin does not like falling rocks,
slippery pavement, or spaghetti roads.
The illustration shows Jack Truck knocking down rocks and speeding past a cowering Cement Mixer Melvin. This parent would like her son to be a better friend by participating in an activity both can enjoy rather than sending one cowering to the sidelines.
Bad manners and “potty jokes” are something that kids will learn eventually and do not need to be taught in a book. Another example:
Jack Truck honks for his buddy
Monster Truck Max.
Max jumps in a pile of old bathtubs and toilets.
“Check this out. I’m a pottyhead!”
Max loves any potty joke.
Every parent must make up their own mind. For an older child who is already well-read in “potty” humor this may seem appropriate. But for most 4 year-olds, Ladybug thinks this may be a bit much.
The Trucktown series is geared toward pre-schoolers and kindergarteners which explains why one-year old Snugglebug was not interested in them in the least. The lessons are sometimes a bit tough to grasp, but they are fun to read aloud. Having not read the entire series, Ladybug cannot comment on the series as a whole, but would suggest parents read the books first before presenting them to their naive pre-schoolers and kindergarteners.
© Becky Laney of Young Readers