Quote of the Month

When love and skill work together, expect a miracle. John Ruskin

Monday, December 24, 2018

It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like . . #7

This morning, Christmas Eve 2018, everything outside is coated in nearly four inches of fluffy, newly-fallen snow.  It's like stepping into an enchanted scene.  Once the woods are left behind, it's obvious everyone out and about is focusing on the same things.  They are committed with intention to getting everything accomplished before tonight; shopping for food and drink, fuel, gifts, and decorations is occupying their every moment.

A crew of machines have inserted themselves firmly into readers' hearts.  Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site and Mighty, Mighty Construction Site are enjoyed no matter how many times they are read.  Excavator, Bulldozer, Crane Truck, Dump Truck, and Cement Mixer are celebrating the holiday season in a new title, Construction Site on Christmas Night (Chronicle Books, October 16, 2018) written by Sherri Duskey Rinker with illustrations by AG Ford.

Down in the big construction site,
there's work to do for Christmas night!

The last big project of the year;
the team is slamming into gear.

All five members of the group are working to build an exceptional abode.  Bulldozer must work from daylight to dusk to clear a spot.  As he finishes his day, there appears in his path a brand-new blade, with a special ribbon and note.  It's a Merry Christmas goodnight for Bulldozer.

Digging and digging all day Excavator fashions a foundation at last.  Snowflakes fall as he chugs toward home.  He too finds a gift wrapped with a ribbon and a thank you card.  For each of the machines remaining, Cement Mixer, Dump Truck and Crane Truck, as their jobs are completed and darkness descends special treats await them.  All five have seasonal sweet dreams.

When the sun shines bright on the next morning other vehicles race down the road.  A symphony of sounds announces their presence; bells, sirens and air horns shout out loud.

It's the town's new FIRE CREW!

That night as snow falls each truck of five finds a special spot; a garage for each one in a house built by a crew of five.  Friends help friends.  Ten peacefully rest ready for the next day.

Oh, there is happy beauty in the rhythmic text of Sherri Duskey Rinker when she spins a tale of these fabulous five.  At the end of every two lines is a rhyming word.  An additional cadence is created with the repetition of each member of the team finishing their job, finding a gift and settling in for the night.  The focus on giving (and receiving) is further strengthened with the arrival of the fire crew.  Here is a passage.

The job's all finished.  One last stop---
Crane Truck puts a star on top.

But Crane has one last thing to lift,
someone's left a SPECIAL gift.

a rock-'em-sock-'em wrecking ball!
It's red and green and ten feet tall.

Merry Christmas, Crane Truck.  Goodnight.

When readers open the matching dust jacket and book case, they will gaze upon a wintry holiday scene including from left to right, back to front, all ten of the vehicles.  There are large wrapped packages in places other than around the Christmas tree.  The clock tower gives the time as midnight.  A snowman keeps two of the trucks company.  On the jacket snowflakes, clumps of snow and the star are rough to the touch and raised.  The title text is red foil.

The opening and closing endpapers are in shades of deep blue.  Excavator is holding the star as he moves to the tree in the first set.  At the end the star is on the tree and Crane Truck is carrying another item toward the tree.  It seems as if the setting we see on the jacket and case is being constructed in the endpapers.

Rendered in Neo-color wax oil crayons by AG Ford the illustrations radiate warmth and cheer.  The matte-finished paper contributes to the soft texture of the images.  On the title page tiny details are tucked into the double-page picture.  Can you see what the man is shouting from the window?

AG Ford shifts the sizes of the visuals from double-page to double-page with a full-page inset, to large pictures crossing the gutter to make a column for text, and to groups of illustrations on a single page.  Sometimes the images will be bordered in a black line.  The expressions on the vehicles' faces convey every emotion explicitly whether they are awake or sleeping.

One of my many favorite illustrations is of Cement Mixer asleep.  The illustration crosses the gutter moving to the left.  Snow is gently falling in the night sky.  Along the background is the darkened cityscape.  On the left and right on mounds of dirt the old drum rests with the open gift box.  Cement Mixer, on the right, is wearing his new red-and-white striped (like a candy cane) drum.  His blanket is resting on his top.  A smile is on his face (grill).  Above the scene is a crescent moon, smiling too.

The spirit of the season bursts from the pages in Construction Site on Christmas Night written by Sherri Duskey Rinker with illustrations by AG Ford.  It's a wonderful, welcome companion to the series.  It's a fantastic festive addition to any holiday collection, professional and personal.  You can't resist reading it aloud.

To discover more about Sherri Duskey Rinker and AG Ford and their other work, please follow the links attached to their names to access their websites.  Both Sherri and AG maintain accounts on Twitter.  On Instagram Sherri and AG have accounts.  At The Children's Book Review AG Ford shows readers how to draw Excavator.

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