Book Review: To the Rescue, Tow Trucks, by Joanne Randolph
Tow trucks! What could be cooler than a truck that can pull other trucks? To my 3 ½-year-old, there certainly aren't many things that are more fascinating than tow trucks. I mean, even an economy car is huge to him, so when there's this huge truck that can move other huge trucks, he's all ears and dinner-plate-sized eyes. Though he has only gotten to see tow trucks working in real life a couple of times, he remembered what they were well enough to name the truck on the cover of Tow Trucks by Joanne Randolph and insist that we take the book home from the library. Once home, he had to look through the book a few times on his own before he settled down enough to ask me to read it to him.
This book is divided into several chapters from 6-8 pages each. The chapters are Behind the Scenes, Kinds of Tow Trucks, and Tow Trucks at Work followed by words to know, an index, and a website that kids can go to in order to learn more about this and other trucks.
One thing that impressed me about this book is that it is simple enough for an early reader, yet has enough content to be interesting and informative to children who are not yet old enough to read. Some pages don't say much, but what they do say fits in perfectly with the picture displayed and SHOWS what it means with those pictures. So many books will just have random photos that feature the right subject, but not necessarily the right action. Often, when the right action is shown, it's not focused enough for a young child to catch on. Not so with this book, as my son was able to clearly see what was going on and the pictures were such that I could easily point out the relevant features for him.
The pictures themselves are much better than I'm used to seeing in this kind of book as far as actual quality of photographs. I've seen many early readers that feature blurry pictures, too busy pictures, and so on. Whoever selected the photos for this book showed excellent attention to clarity, focus, and nicely contrasting colors to make it interesting to small children.
Often the "Words to Know" or Glossary sections of these books are completely useless to my son because he doesn't fully grasp the context of some of the words, especially since they're listed after the entire story is over. However, in this book we have three words (flatbed, flood, and racetrack) that, instead of giving a definition, show a thumbnail picture of each of these. This is much easier for a 3 ½-year-old to grasp when I can point to the picture and say "this is a flatbed" rather then reading descriptions to him that he likely won't even listen to, much less comprehend.
Overall, I was quite impressed with this book. We have gone through nearly every picture book and early reader featuring trucks that the local county library has to offer, and this is one of the best I've seen so far. Definitely a great find for children up to about age six or seven, and the nicely contrasted photos make it a good transition for children who are used to illustrations as opposed to photographs.