Away We Go: Ten Picture Books About Transportation by Jake Nuckolls
There are so many ways to move about in the world and so many wonderful authors and illustrators creating stories and pictures about every type and style. There are the classics, the unknown gems, and the steady-eddie’s. Here is a list of some of my favorite picture books about transportation. Could there be a separate list for each type? Absolutely, but let’s start at the whole.
Little Blue Truck by Alice Schertle; Illus. By Jill McElmurry
We were introduced to the Little Blue Truck who said, “Beep, Beep, Beep” thanks to my librarian Aunt Barb via board book for my son. Bright colors and a wonderful rhyming scheme follow the Little Blue Truck through back roads, mud puddles, and when packed with a trailer full of friendly animals. The first is our favorite with themes of friendship and helpfulness.
Cars and Trucks and Things that Go by Richard Scarry
No list would be complete without an entry from Mr. Scarry. The text in Richard Scarry books always took a backseat to the many pictures presented on each page. The joy my children have pointing out each type of car, truck, bus, boat, etc, mirror my own joy as a child.
Harbor/Freight Train/School Bus/Truck by Donald Crews
Picking just one from Donald Crews is like choosing a favorite child. Not going to happen. Boats, trains, buses, trucks (and there’s more!) are all illustrated in relatively minimal fashion, words emphasizing only what needs to be said on each page. Harbor is a current favorite at our house as two of my children are represented as boat names.
Go, Dog. Go! by P.D. Eastman
What are they doing! Where are they going? Why is this book so totally insane? I still don’t know the answer, but that is the joy of this book about dogs in vehicles going places. While not only about transportation, the climax? of the book is firmly centered around getting somewhere as fast as they can. Oh, and, “Do you like my hat?” “No, I don’t like that hat.” “Goodbye.”
The Caboose Who Got Loose by Bill Peet
Talk to other adults my age (mid-30s) and you will quickly find out that either they are Bill Peet collectors or they don’t know who he is. There is rarely a middle ground. This is one of my personal favorites about Katy Caboose who, like all cabooses (right?) is sick of being at the end of the train and one day gets her wish and it accidentally disconnected from the rest of the train. A harrowing ride backwards leads her to exactly where she wants to be.
The Truck Book by Harry McNaught
One of those trade paperbacks that is perhaps only beloved by a select few from the year it was released. Did I know the name of each truck on each page as a child? You know I did. Sharing it with my own children now I see its timeless draw. It is a beautifully illustrated book about something that can be seen everyday from front windows, front yards, or car seats.
Seven Little Postmen by Margaret Wise Brown and Edith Thatcher Hurd; Illus. by Tibor Gergely
A perfect example of the connectedness of transportation. Small trucks to larger to airplanes to trains to trucks to mail trucks to feet. It’s a classic and beloved by many, but what makes it for me now is Tibor Gergely’s masterful illustrations, bringing to life the midnight work of the mail train.
Round Trip by Ann Jonas
Jonas holds a place in my heart really only for this book. She’s a marvelous author/illustrator, but the concept behind this book is what sells it. Follow along in a car as the narrator drives along back roads and into the city in simple black and white, then, flip the book upside down and watch as the pictures change shape and form to take you from the city back home. Mind-bogglingly good.
The Wreck of the Zephyr by Chris VanAllsburg
Zephyr is a strange book, but should we expect anything else from Mr. VanAllsburg. The Polar Express easily fits on this list as well, but it’s too well known for my taste here (nothing against it for sure). The Wreck of the Zephyr tells the unbelievable tale of a boy who longs to be the best sailor there is and fatefully crashes and ends up on a mysterious island where the boats fly. He learns how to sail as these sky sailors do, but his new found skill ends him in a spot of trouble
Along a Long Road by Frank Viva
Viva is a genius of artistic form. Check out any of his books and you will marvel at their simplistic beauty. Along a Long Road is a bicycling book and one that will easily encourage readers to hop on their own two wheels and follow their own road up and down and around.
When not recommending books, Jake Nuckolls can be found pushing any of his four kids on the swings, hacking back the blackberries getting too close to the chicken coop, and making eyes at his wife. He’s the proprietor of a storytelling challenge over at bellinghamstoryhunt.wordpress.com and welcomes all entries regardless of where you live! He’s on Instagram as Stuffofstories and on Twitter as @thestoryhunt.