Mark Todd, Author . Houghton $15 (32p) ISBN 978-0-618-18208-4

For junior aficionados of extra-heavy equipment, Todd (The Pain Tree) offers a verbal and visual inventory of delights. Each spread features a short verse paean to one of 14 niftily nicknamed and personified vehicles—there's Señor Moo the milk tanker, Smoosh the steamroller and Mish-Mash the concrete mixer. Opening each verse with the refrain "Monster trucks! Monster trucks!" Todd goes on to extol each vehicle's special attributes and importance with a deeply satisfying sonority. "Slime-sucking sweeper trucks," he writes in a tribute to Suds the sanitation truck. "Snorting and scrubbing/ with a big bristly brush—cleaning the streets/ for the 9 o'clock rush." Large-scale cartoon "portraits," set against bold solid-colored backgrounds, strike a beguiling balance of detail and whimsy. Todd painstakingly delineates rivets, gears, hydraulics, tire treads and accoutrements (for example, the tow truck has hooked a sad-looking auto; a fierce Dalmatian runs alongside flag-waving Big Red, the New York City fire truck). He also turns grilles into recognizable expressions of resolve and determination, with most of the trucks sporting gritted teeth and expressive headlight eyes. The final page recaps the cast and offers the kind of technical information—weight, capacity, special features and so forth—that aspiring truckers love to savor. Ages 3-7. (Sept.)

Reviewed on: 09/15/2003
Release date: 09/01/2003
Board Books - 13 pages - 978-0-618-58119-1
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