What is it about boys and wheels? Yes, I’m making a gross generalization and relying far too heavily on anecdotal evidence, but I don’t see our neighbors with daughters outside at 6:30 am on Garbage Day, watching the parade of garbage trucks go by. All to the delight and squeals of my 14 month old son, a son who bolts up in bed when he hears the first rumble of the trucks. A son whose bedroom rug is decorated with things that go– airplanes, fire trucks, cars, trains, and helicopters—and it is the wheel, that black round object, to which he points and drools.
In honor of boys and things that go, here are a handful of new books that celebrate the wheel.
By Steve Light
Steve Light, the author and illustrator of Trains Go knows the allure of trains. It’s not just the rattle and clang or the choo choo or whoosh, it’s the length. How the train just keeps going by, car after car, as if it will never end. Light uses watercolor and black ink and beautifully illustrates trains –freight and diesel and speed and more. When you open the page, the train stretches to two feet. That’s a lot of train!
Ages 1-5 | Publisher: Chronicle Books | January 25, 2012
In Train Man, by Andrea Zimmerman and David Clemesha, we enter the realm of a boy’s imagination as he considers what he’ll be when he grows up. A train man, without a doubt, with a train man hat and overalls. As the story progresses, his toy train turns into a big engine and he is at the helm, traveling up the mountain and back down again, then finally into his room with his track and miniature trains.
Ages 2-5 | Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.| March 13, 2012
By William Low
Since I received this book a couple weeks ago, my son has picked it up probably fifty times. (You’ll see why in a second). William Low’s Machines Go to Work in the City opens with a garbage truck. “Vroooom! Here comes the garbage truck, making its run! When the truck makes its last pickup, are the garbage collectors done for the day?” The page on the left folds out or up or down to give you the answer: “No, they must go to the landfill to empty the trash.” (And then I launch into a discussion of how we want to try to recycle because look at that yucky landfill. Never too early to start, I suppose). That’s the pattern of the book as it moves through commuter trains, vacuum trucks, tower cranes and airplanes. After the umpteenth reading, my son now says very clearly and distinctly the word, “No.”
Ages 2-6 | Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.| June 5, 2012
By Brian Biggs
Everything Goes On Land by Brian Biggs illustrates the entire page, using lots of color and capturing the sense of a city with its busyness and packed streets. We move through the city with a little boy and his father, who is driving. They see cars, trucks, RVs, bikes, buses, motorcycles, subway and trains. The book is interspersed with detailed explanations about particular vehicles. We even get to learn about how an electric car works. Biggs has a wonderful sense of the silly, letting the dogs and birds talk. He’s also built in a sort of I Spy game with birds wearing hats and random things that just don’t belong.
Ages 4-8 | Publisher: HarperCollins | September 13, 2011
A Chapter Book
By Trent Reedy
Trent Reedy in Stealing Air has a keen sense of what might appeal to a young boy– not only things that go, but boys who build rocket bikes and real airplanes in secret sheds.( Yes, a bike that with a flip of a switch zooms down the road.) Brian, a newcomer to Iowa, makes friends with Max, who shares with him his secret—in a hidden shed, he’s building a real airplane that looks like a flying motorcycle. But Max is afraid of heights so he solicits help from Brian and Alex, the popular kid from school, to serve as pilot and co-pilot. If the plane is ever to get off the ground, the boys have to overcome fights at home, at school, and a bully named Frankie.
Ages 8-12 | Publisher: Scholastic, Inc. | October 1, 2012
Nina Schuyler’s first novel, “The Painting,” was nominated for the Northern California Book Award and was named a ‘Best Book’ by the San Francisco Chronicle. Her next novel, “The Translator,” will be published by Pegasus Books in New York, Spring, 2013. She is the fiction editor for www.ablemuse.com and teaches creative writing at the University of San Francisco.