CM . . . . Volume XVI Number 9. . . .October 30, 2009.
Mad About Tractors, Trucks, Diggers and Dumpers.
Toronto, ON: Scholastic Canada, 2009.
20 pp., pbk., $4.99.
Excavating Machines-Juvenile literature.
Preschool-grade 1 / Ages 4-7.
Review by Devon Greyson.
Tractors are ready to tackle all types of tough jobs! They have thick tires to carry them across muddy, bumpy ground and a powerful engine to help them lift and move heavy loads.
Mad about tractors
Some people are so crazy about tractors that they have special tractor races.
Mad About Tractors, Trucks, Diggers and Dumpers, from Scholastic's “Mad About” series, is a nice little paperback truck book for preschool and early readers. Each of seven different large vehicles, ranging from snowplow to combine harvester, are treated to a two-page spread featuring a crisp photo of the vehicle looking showroom-shiny, a two-sentence explanation of what the vehicle does, and a few related fun facts. Select vocabulary is bolded on each page, and close-up photos of key parts of the vehicle –– for example the backhoe's bucket - are highlighted along the margins.
Mad About Tractors, Trucks, Diggers and Dumpers is bright and attractive in bold primary colours. The images, which mostly appear to be promotional photos from the vehicle manufacturers, are bright and clear. The fun, yet easy-to-discern, font is large and set against contrasting colour blocks. The level of this book is appropriate to read or skim aloud to preschoolers or for beginning readers to work through on their own.
At the end of the book are two activity pages: a “Guess who?” review game and a hidden pictures/counting game. “Guess who?” shows a closeup of part of a given vehicle and gives a hint as to which one it is, which could serve as a nice review of the book's content. The “Big digger spotting” hidden pictures game asks readers to find a specified number of various vehicles, scattered around a farm/construction scene. However, this game's cartoon illustrations don't seem to match with the rest of the book's all-photography style, and the copy editor failed to catch a wrong number of hidden tires.
I would hesitate to purchase this book for a classroom or library. It appears to be aimed at the home, mass paperback market, and thus not likely to hold up to much abuse or heavy handling. Further, the “Mad About” books do not contain all the traditional parts of a book teachers and librarians teach about. For instance, there is no author or illustrator attribution anywhere on the book, and typical title page verso information appears only in very abbreviated form on the back cover.
Overall, Mad About Tractors, Trucks, Diggers and Dumpers is a fine little book about big vehicles, but nothing about the content makes it stand out when compared with the myriad of other preschool truck books. The production values are not especially high as it is designed to be almost disposable in nature. However, on that note, it may be a good value for cost. If you are shopping with a limited budget and need an eye-catching preschool-aimed nonfiction truck book, this may be an appropriate choice for your collection.
Recommended with reservations.
Devon Greyson is a librarian at the Centre for Health Services and Policy Research in Vancouver, BC.
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