Road Work Ahead

Anastasia Suen, Author, Jannie Ho, Illustrator
Anastasia Suen, illus. by Jannie Ho. Viking, $15.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-670-01288-6
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A batch of Grandma's homemade oatmeal cookies beckons, but for this backseat narrator, the sights and sounds along the road to her house are equally compelling: "Road work ahead./ Move over. Go slow./ Jackhammers crack./ Look at them go." Indeed, the boy and his mother seem to have taken a detour through a suburban Busytown: nearly every possible construction or municipal maintenance crew is on the job (the police have even snagged a black-masked bad guy). Suen's (Red Light, Green Light) ultrashort verse leaves Ho (The Great Reindeer Rebellion) plenty of room to fill the page with work activity, cute animals, and visual jokes; one spread largely devoted to a crew installing a new telephone pole also introduces a crafty, escaped pet chicken that readers can follow for the remaining pages. There are comparatively few women on the job, and hardcore aficionados of construction books may find the illustrations cartoonish (would a veteran crew really have trouble wrangling an industrial hose?). But for general audiences, the cheeriness and level of detail should be more than sufficient. Ages 3–5. (Sept.)
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