Wednesday, November 14, 2012

30 Days of Picture Books - Machines Go to Work in the City by William Low

Here we are at Day 14 of Picture Book Month. Today I'm thinking about experience. Picture books allow us as readers to go all sorts of places we ordinarily wouldn't go, either because we wouldn't think of it or just because we haven't been yet. Sure, some of these places are fantastic and Narnia-esque, but a lot of picture books help us visit destinations that are quite familiar. Truthfully, I'm hard pressed to say which is more of a thrill for a young child. I know Sprout's far more interested in riding a train than he is in flying on a dragon!

So far in my parenting career, I've learned something very important: machinery of all sorts holds a peculiar sway over a certain subset of boys (and girls). I've often joked that someone should write a field guide to construction vehicles, a Sibley guide to tractors and trucks if you will. And with today's pick, William Low's Machines Go to Work in the City, we have something pretty close, at least for the common types of machinery you see every day in an urban environment.

In this lively title, readers get to experience big rigs and gear up close and personal, thanks to Low's fantastically detailed realistic illustrations. Each page shows a machine and then poses a question, the answer to which comes when you open the flap on the accompanying page. Sprout likes the vacuum truck, a type of rig we'd never seen in action. He loves that he can flip down the big flap and see the construction worker guiding the vacuum tube to pump out the water -- really fascinating stuff for my little engineer. The final spread is a real showstopper: as we watch an airplane take off over the city, we can open up the flaps to have a full-page illustration of the plane soaring into the sunset. Beautiful stuff - and if you look closely, you can pick out the other machines that Low spotlights in the city streets below.

For those of us who don't live in the big city (and probably even some who do) getting a birds' eye view of construction equipment at work is pretty darn exciting. The illustrations here are just incredible, colorful and bursting with life as well as diversity. As we snuggle together on the couch, it's pretty great that Sprout can imagine being an iron worker or a train engineer, all through the pages of this action-packed thrill of a picture book.

Machines Go to Work in the City by William Low, published by Henry Holt and Company

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