cover image Twenty Big Trucks in the Middle of the Street

Twenty Big Trucks in the Middle of the Street

Mark Lee, illus. by Kurt Cyrus. Candlewick, $15.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-7636-5809-0

An ice cream truck breaking down in “the middle of our street” is a dream come true for many a kid—not to mention the ensuing traffic jam that strands 20 trucks of every shape and purpose. But one boy has something bigger in mind than licking a cone or being a spectator: he wants to solve the problem. That takes some persistence, but he eventually wins over the crowd with a solution that’s literally right in front of them. Adult author Lee, making his children’s debut, seems a bit stuck himself, delineating the mostly easy-to-recognize vehicles (“A pickup truck is number 4/ A crane truck makes 5./ And here come more!”) rather than amplifying the mood so vividly established in Cyrus’s (The Voyage of Turtle Rex) generously scaled and cinematically composed street scenes. It’s his portrayal of the trucks as solid machines momentarily sidelined from their essential duties, along with the evocation of a neighborhood brought together by a benign “Didja ever...” moment, that makes the book feel inspired. It almost doesn’t need words at all. Ages 3–5. Illustrator’s agent: Michael Stearns, Upstart Crow Literary. (June)