For the very young who already exhibit a fascination for things that move, these three board books are excellent choices. Both my son and daughter devoured them (literally — corners of each of their copies have been gnawed away), and I’ve gifted them countless times to friends’ kids.
By Peter Sis, HarperCollins, 1998
Once there was a little boy named Matt who loved fire trucks. His first words in the morning were “fire truck.” The last thing he said before he went to bed was “fire truck.” And one day, when he woke up, he was…a fire truck.
Peter Sis’s work, even here at its simplest, actually gives me goose bumps. He is just. That. Good. And so respectful of how children’s minds and hearts require a different sustenance than adults. This story pays tribute to a child’s powerful imagination and the very basic line drawings — strategically splashed with fire-engine red — enchant.
B y Byron Barton, HarperCollins, 1986
On the road, here come the trucks. They come through tunnels. They go over the bridge.
I basically gave away a third of the text above. This book is winningly uncomplicated. Basically, trucks deliver bread, load up with garbage, bring the newspapers, and so on. But the colorful illustrations pop off the page, and the people are a cross between Lois Lenski’s Papa Small and Fisher-Price’s old-school Little People.
Sheep in a Jeep
By Nancy Shaw, Illustrated by Margot Apple, Houghton Mifflin, 1986
Beep! Beep! Sheep in a jeep on a hill that’s steep. Uh-oh! The jeep won’t go.
I was so taken with this book when someone gave it to my son that I promptly sought out all the other “Sheep” books at the library — “Sheep in a Shop,” “Sheep on a Ship,”something about sheep at Halloween, etc. Sadly, none of them came close to matching the easy charm of this one, the first and by far the best of the series. The gist: Five adorable sheep are out for a ride in their jeep, and are not only terrible drivers, but easily distracted. The rhyming is spot-on — fun to read aloud and listen to — and the illustrations, particularly the ever-changing expressions on the sheeps’ faces, never get old.