Some picture books serve a dual purpose. They instruct as they entertain, and kids love reading picture books and parents love that the books teach new ideas and new occupations, and also provide new information about life. And the best? Kids will love each of these three picture books.
“Little Smokey” by Robert Neubecker will teach children and adults alike the names and jobs of the different planes that fight forest fires. There are air tankers and water scoopers. There are V.L.A.T.s (Very Large Air Tankers). But for the littlest plane, there is no name yet because names have to be earned. Kids will love reading about how the little plane was too little for many fires, but then came the fire that needed just what she could provide. And she got a name. The information at the end if also fascinating and teaches about how fires start, the different kinds of fires, the different kinds of firefighting crews that work to fight fires, arial firefighting, and how we can help to never start a forest fire. (Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers)
“Thunder Trucks” by Cheryl Klein and Katy Beebe is the perfect book to read just before a stormy, noisy, thundering night. For kids who love trucks and construction vehicles, this book will entrance them and ensure that they never are scared of thunder and lightning again. When the weather turns stormy, according to this picture book, it “means that the Thunder Trucks are gathering ’round!” Bulldozer shoves clouds, Crane Truck uses his powerful boom and Dozer and Crane help. Tanker Truck brings the rain, and there’s even a fire truck and a dump truck. There’s a big rig and more. And the repeated refrain is, “Thunder Trucks loud. Thunder Trucks strong. Thunder Trucks moving this storm along.” The last page contains information about “The Real Science Behind Storms” for older readers (and parents). This one is sure to be a favorite — especially on cloudy nights. (Disney-Hyperion)
“Kitten Construction Company: A Bridge Too Fur” by John Patrick Green is really a graphic novel, but the text is simple enough to be read to a young reader, and kids will really enjoy seeing the cats in construction hats working on jobs. There’s Sampson, the black and white electrical engineer cat, Professor von Wigglebottom, a Siamese cat who also happens to be an expert in masonry and lumber, Bubbles, the white cat plumber, and Marmalade, the ginger cat who is the architect. Marmalade loves the challenge of designing a new bridge for the town of Mewburg, but then the Professor points out a problem. “It’s a bridge. Have you thought about all the…water?” he asks Marmalade. Cats don’t like water. But the dogs come to the rescue, and the cats and dogs must learn how to work together. When the dogs come up with an idea to make the bridge better, Marmalade refuses to take their advice. But eventually, with the help of the other cat workers, Marmalade (and the readers) learn that prejudice is destructive and everyone needs to be given a fair shake. So the House Kittens and the Demo Doggos learn to work together, “paw in paw,” until the bridge is complete. It’s truly a lovely story with plenty of humor for all and an important message about judging others for kids to think about. It’s also a great way for young readers to learn about the different jobs involved in construction projects. (First Second Books)
Please note: These reviews are based on the final, hardcover books provided by the publishers for review purposes.