cover image Small Walt

Small Walt

Elizabeth Verdick, illus. by Marc Rosenthal. S&S/Wiseman, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-1-4814-4845-1

After a blizzard hits, it looks as though Walt, “the smallest snowplow in the fleet,” will be left behind in the parking lot, unable to keep up with bigger plows. Then along comes Gus, a worker who knows that Walt is up for the job. Verdick (Peep Leap) assumes a chummy tone in her concise narration and keeps the storytelling taut. There’s just enough vehicular geekiness for aficionados: Gus goes through a four-point checklist to make sure that Walt is in good working order, and there are sound effects throughout. But what gives the story its verve is Rosenthal’s digitally colored pencil artwork, which has a matter-of-fact open-heartedness and a compelling sense of place that recalls the stories of Virginia Lee Burton. Yes, Walt wins the respect of the big machines, but what feels more important is the relationship between snowplow and driver. When the story concludes with Gus tying his blue scarf around Walt’s rearview mirror, declaring “A blue ribbon for my buddy,” readers will know their bond is the real thing. Ages 4–8. [em]Author’s agent: Mary Cummings, Betsy Amster Literary Enterprises. Illustrator’s agent: Holly McGhee, Pippin Properties. (Oct.) [/em]