Boys (yes, and some girls, too) will love the trucks, You will love the paintings

Look, it’s not that I’m sexist.  At least, not any more than most other people I know.  I understand that there are gender stereotypes out there that can really hurt people, careers, and families.  But at a baseline, it’s true that boys and girls are different.  And so when I say that boys will love the trucks, I’m not saying all boys will, and I’m not saying all girls won’t.  I’m just pointing out the obvious–that more boys are likely to be into trucks than girls.  Just to clear that up.  I mean really, I have a son in ballet.  (There’s a blog entry for you, maybe another time–what people say to me when I tell them THAT.  We do live in a sexist world.)

Title: Machines go to work
Author: William Low
Genre
: Picture Book
Age: 0 – 6

Summary and Review:

This book is gorgeous!  Not the first thing you’d expect someone to say about a book on trucks and machines, but it absolutely is.  The paintings are first-rate, beautiful, and I never tire of looking at them.  The backhoe isn’t standing in the middle of a construction site, but is surrounded by tulips and crabapple trees.  The fire-engine is in front of a backdrop of blooming cherries, and the pick-up on top of a hill overlooking the water.  I’m not sure where the illustrator lives, but the scene reminds me a lot of Seattle; if you told me it was somewhere else, I would be surprised.

I don’t know if my toddler appreciates the art, but he loves the machines and he loves the stories.  For each machine, there is a question.  Then you turn the flap for the answer.  The answer always starts with “no”, and my son is excited to shout “no!” every time the flaps are turned.  (E.g., “Is the backhoe digging up the flowers?  No, it’s digging a hole for new crab-apple trees.”)  In fact, the language of the book is such that even though we’ve only read it a few times, he’s already memorized most of it and likes to “read” it himself.

Possible conversations to have with your kids:

It’s a book about machines, and it shows really nicely how there are a lot of different machines for different kinds of jobs.  There is also an index in the back with pictures of all the machines in the book, so at the end of the book, you can review, which is my son’s favorite part of reading anything.  Ask your child about the different machines–which one is for digging?  Which one is for rescuing people (or cats in this case)?  Which one carries things in cars that it pulls?  Which ones ride on the road?  On the water?  On tracks?  Etc.  Pointing out that different things have different purposes will help them develop their observation and think critically about what they are looking at.

Another game you can play is “find the machine”.  I can’t take credit for this–my son invented this game.  Any book that has pictures in the back, if we see the pictures, he has to search through the book to find where they are in the book.  Why not?  It keeps them involved with the book and the content, encourages them to learn the book’s layout and materials, and also teaches them that books are a place you can find information.

Hopefully, when my son grows up enough to start writing those nonfiction school reports, books will still exist for him to look through.  🙂

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