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Archive for January 20th, 2017

truck-1

by Sam Juliano

Until Jason Carter Eaton and his Caldecott Honor winning Illustrator John Rocco released their fabulous picture book manual offering up tips to children hankering to find their brand of pet trucks, ownership went no further than Tonka and match box.  Mind you this was a rewarding hobby, and some were dedicated and responsible enough to amass collections of over five-hundred and upwards.  Eighteen wheelers, transports, lorries, flatbeds, pick-ups, moving vans and even tanker trucks (though after Steven Spielberg’s terrifying Duel released in 1971 the demand for that model plummeted!) took their place on every young boy’s bedroom dresser or abreast of their Lionel table.  Keeping them in mint condition was as vital it was for the baseball card collector, though some incorrigible owners couldn’t pass up the opportunity to stage accidents.  But Eaton and Rocco have set the record straight with a proposal that should have all truck lovers chomping at the bit, much as train lovers found themselves facing a deal they couldn’t resist in the critically-acclaimed How to Train a Train.  In their bold, often daunting investigative study, narrated by an Asian boy who wore out his copies of Donald Crews’s Truck and two old Virginia Lee Burton classics about a steam shovel and a snow plow, the artists were so impressed by this fervent truck aficionado that they decided to let him serve as tour guide for all others who share his unbridled passion.  Some of the more practical aims of this all-encompassing guide involve answering some of the more popular questions that confront this most specialized pursuit.   Mike told the book’s creators that his love for trucks started when he watched an old French movie classic with his father called The Wages of Fear.  Eaton researched it and conveyed the capsule plot to Rocco:  when an oil well owned by an American company catches fire, the company hires four European men, down on their luck, to drive two trucks over mountain dirt roads, loaded with nitroglycerin needed to extinguish the flames. (more…)

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school-1

by Sam Juliano

A popular idiom goes something like this:  “I would have loved to be a fly on the wall to witness that great event you just experienced.”  A variation on that theme centers around  a newly constructed school  that is  ready to host students for the opening day of the academic year.  The only difference is that wall itself is privy to what is transpiring.   School’s First Day of School by Adam Rex and Christian Robinson, may well induce adults preparing to read the book to their own classes to hum strains from the standard “See You in September” by the Happenings.  This is no ordinary opening of school book as the perspective is posed by the school itself.  We’ve seen those horror movies about haunted houses that are cognizant of every nook and cranny of the real estate as well as the actions of those who spend time under their roof.  We’ve seen real estate like the Overlook Hotel and a mansion in Amityville evince an all-knowing countenance and occupants soon enough understood that forces beyond their control were setting the chain of events.  The focus of Rex’s benign picture book of course has nothing to do with nefarious possession but one of academic appreciation and the workings of a school day from a refreshing new perspective.  Frederick Douglas Elementary School has been given a heart and a conscience, and the point of view has been turned upside down with a number of observations (more…)

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