cover image The Rusty, Trusty Tractor

The Rusty, Trusty Tractor

Joy Cowley, Clivier Dunrea. Boyds Mills Press, $15.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-1-56397-565-3

Newer is not always better--at least in the eyes of Granpappy, who stands by his rusty, trusty red tractor though flashier, more modern models come along. Mr. Hill, a tractor salesman, is sure the tractor won't make it through another season, and wagers 20 jelly doughnuts, one for every acre of Granpappy's crop of hay. Young Micah, more than a little interested in the models in Mr. Hill's showroom, doesn't understand his grandfather's resistance to change, but then he watches Granpappy successfully coax the tractor (""chugga, chugga, chugga"") through the strenuous planting and haying seasons. After that, Granpappy's ""antique bucket of rust"" even has enough steam left in her to tow Mr. Hill's car out of the mud. Granpappy is a likable old codger, loyal and not easily swayed. Cowley's (Agapanthus Hum and the Eyeglasses) easygoing pace and down-home diction invite readers into a warm family story filled with nuggets of wisdom. Dunrea (The Trow-Wife's Treasure; The Painter Who Loved Chickens) is no stranger to farm settings. Here his paintings are airier and more conventional than in his previous works, both in their palette and ever-so-slightly cartoonlike draftsmanship. Granpappy sports a white mustache as brushy as a broom, which conceals his mouth, and his eyes are often shaded by a big hat--without clues to his facial expressions, he comes across as playfully inscrutable, and his very posture telegraphs his implacability. Kids will love the bright array of tractors on the endpapers. Ages 4-8. (Feb.)