Machines Go to Work in the City

June 2012. 48p. 978-0-80509-905-5. 16.99.
PreS-Gr 2–This sequel to Low’s Machines Go to Work (Holt, 2009) starts with a garbage truck making its rounds and concludes with a foldout aerial view of a plane in flight. In between, workers lay new train tracks, a vacuum truck pumps water out of a tunnel, and a bucket truck and repair crew  fix a broken traffic signal. A tower crane lifts a giant beam, and a baggage carrier helps to load a plane.   Generously filled with questions, the clear, readable text encourages readers’ participation. Richly colored, realistic spreads portray a busy city and follow the course of the day from sunrise to sunset. In this book, Low tends to show more interaction between humans and machinery. The illustrations increase in size when flaps are lifted; this additional artwork responds to questions embedded in the text.  Smaller, labeled images are repeated on three closing pages. These images are paired with concise descriptive paragraphs reiterating the purposes of the machines. Another dynamic picture book for children who devour books about machinery or for those fascinated with lift-the-flap materials.
Books don’t get much better than this for machinery-loving preschoolers. Listeners are first introduced to a particular situation involving vehicles, from a garbage truck to a tower crane to an airplane. What happens next? Lift a flap (which provides an extended scene of the problem at hand) and find out. For example, traffic has stalled because of a broken light. Can a police officer fix the light? Open the flap: "No, when the bucket truck arrives, the signal crew will fix the traffic light." The tactile component here is thoughtfully varied in ways appropriate to the situation. Some flaps fold out; one depicting a crane using hydraulic jacks for extension flips up; and one, of a vacuum truck draining water from a subterranean broken pipe, opens downward to set the underground scene. Just as they did in Machines Go to Work (rev. 7/09), Low’s painterly illustrations display the drama and excitement of a bustling cityscape. The final spread shows an airplane ready for departure. Once it’s towed to the runway, it takes off and soars over the city, which is unveiled in a glorious finale as youngsters construct the scene by opening four flaps and creating a poster-sized panorama. Back matter shows each vehicle, complete with a definition and labels for important parts. betty carter

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