Lots of little guys (and hey, us bigger guys, too) love things that GO — cars, trains, planes, trucks, diggers. There are plenty of vehicle-themed picture books, but these are exceptionally creative and fun.
Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site, by Sherri Duskey Rinker (lexile: 820; AR book level: 3.8; 32 pp)
If your little one would rather go to sleep clutching a dump truck than a stuffed rabbit, this bedtime story is ideal. One by one, the hard-working machines of a construction site — crane, cement mixer, dump truck, bulldozer, excavator — finish their jobs and settle down for the night. Each character is drawn with expressive faces and little endearing details — the crane cradling his teddy bear, the cement mixer under a polka-dot blanket. The perfectly-metered rhymes wind down to a quiet ending under a starlit sky, as machines and children alike are told “Good work today! Now … shh … goodnight.” A brand new gem by a first time children’s book author. (And there’s a fun video book trailer here.)
The Three Little Rigs, by David Gordon (lexile: NA; AR book level: NA; 32 pp)
How about the classic story of the Three Little Pigs, retold as three trucks? With bright, colorful illustrations and bouncing rhyme, the three little rigs set out into the wide industrial world to build their respective garages: one of wood, one of bricks, and one of steel. But watch out — the big mean wrecking ball comes along with other ideas. Machine lovers will enjoy all the expressively-drawn equipment, from the cement mixer to the pulley, nail gun and air compressor. But be forewarned: as does the wolf in the original tale, the wrecking ball and his cronies, Mean Magnet and Cruel Cutter, meet a sorry fate.
And another vehicular version of a classic tale by Gordon:
Hansel and Diesel (lexile: NA; AR book level: 4.1; 32 pp) Two little trucks find a fancy gas station in the midst of the junkyard — but watch out for the Wicked Winch! (Note: the Wicked Winch meets her doom in her own vehicle shredder!)
I’m Dirty! by Kate McMullan (lexile: NA; AR book level: 1.4; 40 pp)
Little guys who like construction equipment and dirt will love this sassy, exuberant backhoe loader who loves his dirty job. After bragging about all his equipment (“steel arms, hydraulic rams, and a specialized, maximized, GIANT-SIZED loader bucket”), he heads off to work. Counting items from 10 down to 1, he clears an empty lot, and then puts it all in the dumpster. (“Hope ya like NOISE. Clank! Rattle! Bang! Clunk!”) There’s dirtier work ahead, and he ends up happily covered in mud. The text and pictures are energetic and the backhoe an appealing character. And if you’re looking for educational value (besides the countdown), how about the value of hard work, done with pride?
And fans of the hard-working backhoe may also like McMullan’s similar:
I Stink! (lexile: NA; AR book level: 1.6; 40 pp) Every night while the city sleeps, this brash garbage truck prowls the streets, stuffing and smashing an alphabet soup of trash, from Apple cores to Zipped-up Ziti with Zucchini.
I’m Mighty! (lexile: 380; AR book level: 1.5; 40 pp) The little tugboat may be small, but he has the mighty responsibility of bringing the biggest ships into the harbor.
I’m Fast! (lexile: NA; AR book level: NA; 40 pp)
A fully-loaded freight train takes on a zippy red sports car for a race to Chicago.