Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Children’s Book Review, Want to Play Trucks?

Reviewed by Susan Stephenson,

Want to Play Trucks? is a children’s picture book written by Ann Stott, illustrated by Bob Graham and published by Walker Books (2018.) RRP: $Au 16.99 PB. I have previously reviewed Graham’s Silver Buttons and How to Heal a Broken Wing.

From the publisher:

Jack and Alex meet almost every morning in the sandbox at the playground. Jack likes trucks – big ones. Alex likes dolls – pink ones, with sparkles. And tutus. But Jack doesn’t want to play dolls, and Alex doesn’t want to play trucks. Luckily for Jack and Alex, the day is saved with a little bit of compromise and the easy acceptance that characterizes true friendship... What about dolls who drive trucks?

I very much appreciate children’s picture books that work on multiple levels. For some kids, this will simply be a book about trucks and contribute to their growing love of anything with wheels. Many children will recognise a situation that they have experienced - playing in a playground with someone else when there’s a difference of opinion. Some kids might recognise someone they can relate to - Jack likes trucks; Alex likes dolls. As in all the best picture books, the adults are seen chatting in the background while the kids show they’re perfectly capable of working out a solution for themselves. There’s no preaching, just a satisfying narrative arc with a climax and a resolution.

I am very impressed with Stott as an author. She has written a tale rich in spare and believable dialogue. Graham contributes his trademark illustrations with details that will become more apparent on a second re-telling. This is a lovely picture book to choose for a read-aloud and has lots of fodder for discussion with kids. It’s a gentle and pragmatic way to explore gender stereotypes and individual differences, highly recommended for families and libraries. I'm awarding it with The Book Chook Feather of Approval and it's a definite contender for my Top Picture Books 2018!

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