cover image The Little Black Truck

The Little Black Truck

Libba Moore Gray. Simon & Schuster, $15 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-671-78105-7

In the feel-good tradition of The Little Engine That Could and Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel , another obsolete motor vehicle makes the grade. As she attempts to whip up sentiment for a wholesome bygone era, however, Gray ( Dear Willie Rudd, ) relentlessly condescends to her audience. Mistaking a simplistic tale for a simple one, she delivers a repetitious text reminiscent of the bland basal readers of yore: ``It went past the white-blossomed apple orchard. It went past the red brick schoolhouse where the children waved as it went rolling along. It went past the small, brown grocery store where the owner gave it a snappy salute.'' Cheery bursts of onomatopoeia relieve the monotony, mimicking various truck sounds, e.g., a ``Perka perka / Pop pop / Stop'' indicates its fitful halting. Sayles ( Nettie's Gift ) portrays the romantic mood of the story in handsome, larger-than-life pastels. Warm greens, browns and blues depict a shimmering heartland. Slightly bowed perspectives lend movement to the page. Given their insatiable appetite for more of the same, the large population of truck enthusiasts may overlook the limitations of this volume. Ages 4-6. (Apr.)