Monday, January 16, 2012

Book #16: Little Blue Truck by Alice Schertle, Illustrated by Jill McElmurry

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The Little Blue Truck drives along sleepy country roads. As he drives he makes friends with the animals along the road. His horn beeps at each one and they croak, cow, oink, or baaa back. Suddenly, a huge yellow dump truck zooms rudely past the Little Blue Truck. Unfortunately, rain has turned the road to mud and the dump truck is soon spinning his wheels in the muck. The Little Blue Truck tries to rescue the dump truck, but only succeeds in getting stuck too. But, unlike the self-important dump truck, the Little Blue Truck made lots of friends on his journey and they come to his rescue. The dump truck learns the value of friendship and the animals get to ride in the Little Blue Truck.

The illustrations use a palette of browns, yellows, and greens to depict the countryside, which makes the Little Blue Truck stand out. I love the smears and spatters of mud colored paint used to show the trucks stuck in the mud. The message of the book is very clear. As the dump truck says, “Now I see a lot depends on helping hands and helping friends.” This story can be used to start a discussion about the value of friendship and what it means to be a good friend.

I love reading this story out loud because of the animal and truck sounds. If you have an old-fashioned car horn, bring it to storytime and use it each time the Little Blue Truck beeps (just make sure you hide the horn so that the kids don’t drive you crazy playing with it). Each animal repeats their noise multiple times, which means the kids can help when the animals reappear to save the day. This is a great excuse to use your flannelboard. Put up each animal as they appear in the book and then when it’s time to make their sound you can point at them on the board. You could also use stuffed animals or laminated pictures taped to the wall or white board.

This book is a big hit with kids who love cars and trucks. There are road signs to find, curves to negotiate, and finally a wonderful, animal filled ride in a truck. Your kids may want to play with cars and trucks after this book. Use masking tape or painters tape to make a roadway on the floor and pull out your box of toy cars and trucks. If you don’t have cars and trucks, have the kids walk along the tape lines pretending to be cars. To avoid chaos, give them directions such as, “Turn right at the next intersection” or “Drive as slow as a turtle.” 

If you’ve got some leftover cardboard boxes, make a cardboard car for your child to play in. I love cardboard because kids can draw right on the object. If you don’t have the time to make a whole car, grab some plastic plates and some kitchen chairs and you’ve got an instant pretend car with a plastic plate steering wheel.

Try singing The New Wheels on the Bus (from the book Family Storytime: Twenty-Four Creative Programs for All Ages. By Rob Reid.). Print off pictures of each mode of transportation and pull them out when you get to their verses in the song. You can start by singing the tradition Wheels on the Bus or you can jump right into the sports car verse.  

Let’s get off the bus and into a nice, red, shiny SPORTS CAR!
            The wheels on the sports car go round and round, etc.
            The horn on the car goes meep, meep, meep, etc.
            The motor on the car goes rrrrrrrRRRRRRRRRrrrrr, etc.

Now let’s get out of the car and get into a ROCKET SHIP!
            The boosters on the rocket go whooooosh, whoooosh, whoooosh!, etc.
            The radio on the rocket goes garble squawk garble, etc.
            The people on the rocket go “Hey! I’m floating!”, etc

Let’s get off the rocket and get into something more exciting….A DONKEY CART!
            The wheels on the cart go clippety-clop, etc.
            The driver on the cart goes giddyup, etc.
            The donkey on the cart goes hee-haw, etc.
            The kids, moms, and dads go “that’s all!”


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