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Thursday, September 27, 2012

Machines Go To Work in the City, written and illustrated by William Low. Henry Holt, Macmillan. Raincoast Books, 2012.$18.99 ages 3 and up

"Cars and trucks stop when
the traffic lights are not working.

A police officer moves
the traffic along.
Will the officer fix
the broken light?

No, when the bucket truck
arrives, the signal crew
will fix the traffic light."

Oh, I can just see the faces of those children who love machines, and want to know all that they do!
To say that I love the premise of this book would be to downplay my interest in it. It is a very strong addition to the new books for children who love to name machines and to watch them work.

The machines are varied and recognizable to most children...beginning with a garbage truck, and moving on to a train, a giant vacuum truck, a bucket truck, a crane, a baggage carrier, and an airplane. Lest any captivated reader not know about  them and the jobs they do, Mr. Low provides captioned entries and labelled illustrations for each at the back of this stunning book. It adds to the allure for fans and for those who spend time reading with them to help them navigate the wealth of information shared, both in words and in pictures.

Each section contains two double-page spreads. On the first we are introduced to the machine with the noise it makes and its name. Turn the page and you see that machine once again, and are made aware of a problem it is sure to solve. Then, flip the gatefold and you will see what happens with it. Each question is answered before moving on to the next machine on the list. The language is clear and straightforward, offering answers to sure-to-be-asked questions from intrigued listeners. The city setting is always evident; its importance is, however, secondary to the vehicle being described. Readers will be aware of it in muted backgrounds, keeping the machines at the forefront.

There is so much to see in the rich, fully-detailed artwork. The colors are bold and invite careful study before ever dreaming of moving on to the next page. It is almost impossible to see the edge of the gatefold; he has done a remarkable job of matching one image to the other. Light and shadow add depth to each and give the reader a sense of life as it happens on the streets of a big city. There is always work to be done, and machines have a very important role to play in the daily lives of the people living there.  William Low has a great love for his setting and his subject; it is fully evident on every page.

 I have mentioned perfect purchases in prior posts. If there's a little one in your family who loves machines and the work they do, you would not go wrong in making sure this is one of the books that finds its way to your library shelf.

I have not seen a copy of his first book about machines, (Machines Go to Work, 2009). That will soon be rectified.

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