“Horn went ‘Beep!’
You ever heard.”
…begins Little Blue Truck by Alice Schertle, illustrated by Jill McElmurry (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2008) AND its sequel: Little Blue Truck Leads the Way (2009).
I don’t get much past “beep” before my three-year-old daughter takes over, reciting whichever book we are reading by heart, often using only visual cues to jog her memory of the text on each page.
If she pauses and I suggest a word, I am asked to “stop talking” while she turns back a page, and then forward a page, and starts up again all by herself.
Even as a two-year-old she’d quote:
were sunk down deep
in muck and mire.”
“His Honor climbed
right up on Blue
and gave a speech
(the way mayors) do.”
This vocabulary is not part of a two-year-old’s everyday vernacular.
And boy did she know it.
“…muck and mire,” she’d carefully articulate—with a smirk.
“…and have a speech the way mayors do” she’d gush—with a smile and a sparkle in her eye.
I suppose when a jaw drops as low as mine did the first time she “read” Little Blue Truck Leads the Way, she was justified to try to get another, equally exciting reaction out of Mom.
My daughter has read Little Blue Truck so many times that we are now on our second copy (thanks, Gretchen).
I bought our first copy for my son when he turned one last September.
Feeling that we needed more “boy books” in Picture Book House, this one, that is almost impossible to miss on prominent display somewhere in most bookstores, looked fun.
In fact, it was everything a boy could ask for: A little truck, farm animals, animal noises, a big truck, mud!
It came home to our canon, and as often happens with picture books in our house, every time we read it, we like it more, and more…
The second spread reads: “Little Blue Truck/ came down the road./ ‘Beep!’ said Blue/ to a big green toad.”
Little Blue continues down the road, kind-heartedly beeping at every animal he passes. The animals croak, neigh, moo, and baaa right back.
A dump truck who honks, “I haven’t got time/ to pass the day/ with every duck/ along the way.”
“Into the mud/ rolled the big fat truck,/ and his big important/ wheels got stuck.”
Enter Little Blue Truck…
…in the Dump’s rear-view mirror (my favorite illustration in the book), to save the day with the help of his farm animal friends.
Enter moral of the story:
“Thanks, little brother,’
said the Dump to Blue.
‘You helped me
and they helped you.
Now I see
a lot depends
on a helping hand
from a few good friends!’”
Although there is so much more than plot to love about this book.
When my son (who has reclaimed his birthday present), with his little muscle-less baby arms turns to the page where toad is standing in a puddle of mud showing off his biceps, my son mimics him and I get to give each little arm a squeeze. “Muscle! Muscle!” he has learned to say.
In Little Blue Truck Leads the Way, a tale about Little Blue’s trip to the city where he teaches all the rushing cars and trucks to slow down and get in line, my son and I play “find Little Blue” on the third page spread.
Little Blue is barely visible, in the bottom left corner, dwarfed by the towering skyscrapers of the city. If I open the page just right the truck is hidden immediately, and then my son works and giggles and works and snorts to pry my hand off the book in search of his buddy, Blue.
Little Blue Truck and Little Blue Truck Leads the Way aren’t just fun, they are F-U-N FUN, fun.
Fun to read, with lines easily memorized thanks to a catchy rhythm and rhyme.
Fun to look at, with engaging illustrations of personified motor vehicles and friendly livestock.
Fun to share with my kids when we are up at 5:30, reading to keep from falling back to sleep, at breakfast when coffee livens things up a bit and I can really get honking, at bedtime, when we whisper beep, or really whenever we feel like it, which is most of the time.
“Oink! Quack! Baaa!
Moo! Cluck! Peep!
Neigh! Croak! Maaa!
Beep! Beep! Beep!”