Allison's Book Bag

Twenty Big Trucks in the Middle of the Street by Mark Lee

Posted on: August 27, 2013

Ironically, more children’s counting books have been published than I can count. Any new counting book needs an original concept, or at least the things being counted should have a high appeal. Mark Lee should find an eager audience among boys for his book about trucks.

Told in rhyme, Twenty Big Trucks in the Middle of the Street starts out with the ever-popular and familiar ice-cream truck “selling everything sweet”. Alas, the truck breaks down, blocking the middle of the street. Next up is a mail truck, which soon finds itself stuck because of the broken-down ice-cream truck. Third is a truck carrying hay, which gets stopped in its tracks by the two stuck trucks ahead of it. One by one, a yellow-helmeted boy on a red bike counts the trucks which roll up his street only to find themselves stuck, until there are twenty trucks blocking the road. For a counting book, Lee has created an entertaining story whose ultimate solution belongs to the boy and not the adults.

Illustrator Kurt Cyrus uses a bright color palette with high visual appeal. The twenty big trucks, depicted from a variety of perspectives, dominate the pages. Sometimes a sole truck appears on a page, other times multiple trucks, and sometimes a spread depicts all twenty trucks. Boys will love identifying all the different trucks. Secondary to the trucks are the people, who include a range of body shapes and ethnicities. Cyrus rightly makes the young yellow-helmeted boy on his red bike the only constant presence.

Twenty Big Trucks in the Middle of the Street brought back fond memories for me of the days when my young brother would clap his hands excitedly whenever he saw a truck. As an elementary school resource teacher, the majority of my students are boys. While I have to be honest and say video games would be number one on most of their minds, trucks are among their next favorite topics. I even have a student this year who wants to write a book about trucks. Perhaps Twenty Big Trucks in the Middle of the Street can serve as inspiration?

In my interview with author Mark Lee, he shared that “… writing Twenty Big Trucks in the Middle of the Street was my attempt to write something inspired by the classics of children’s literature. It makes me very happy that someone, somewhere, will read this book aloud to a child.” I will be taking his book to school to read to my younger students. Who will you share Twenty Big Trucks in the Middle of the Street with today?

My rating? Read it: Borrow from your library or a friend. It’s worth your time.

How would you rate this book?


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I am focusing this year on other commitments. Once a month, I’ll post reviews of Advanced Reader Copies. Titles will include: Freddy Frogcaster and the Flash Flood by Janice Dean, One Two by Igor Eliseev, Incredible Magic of Being by Kathyrn Erskine, Dragon Grammar Book by Diane Robinson, and Wide as the Wind by Edward Stanton.



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