Monday, February 11, 2013

Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site

As you know by now, I have two little girls.  Like any mom, I hoped when I was pregnant with Frances that she would like cars as much as princesses, and that I would make an effort to introduce both girls to as many different kinds of toys as possible - blocks, stuffed animals, cars and princesses.  And as you could predict, Frances ended up loving primarily princesses and all of the tiaras, wands, and high heels.  Then Gloria was born, and she could not have been more different.  She is a Disney Cars fan.  We have lots of trucks, race cars, and of course, Lightning McQueens galore (I think I counted ten the other day!).  So a book about construction sites is right up Gloria's alley.  And while Frances does still love princesses, she has learned to appreciate cars and trucks too.

Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site is a book that takes two popular subjects - bedtime and construction - and combines them.  Even better, it does it in a way that works very successfully.  Rinker and Lichtenheld start by looking at the whole construction site during the day.  All of the trucks and equipment are busily working away at their day job.  As the daylight fades, though, each truck begins to complete their tasks and shut down.
The very first piece of equipment is a crane truck.  Rinker takes two pages for each construction vehicle.  Crane Truck is a perfect example of how this book is set up.  Before bedtime, Crane Truck has to raise one last beam up to the high rise.  Rinker demonstrates in rhyming text how a Crane Truck operates and what his specific task is.  As the sun goes down, Crane Truck finishes work on the building, and begins tuck his boom away to prepare for bed.  Sleepy, Crane Truck holds his teddy bear in his claws and hangs a softly glowing star nightlight from his boom.  The last line of every section reads "Shhh...goodnight, Crane Truck, goodnight" or cement mixer or dump truck or bulldozer or last but not least, the excavator.

I really like the way Rinker has treated her subject here.  This book is equally about construction and bedtime.  So for those readers and listeners who want to know about how construction equipment operates, they'll be able to learn about that.  And the rhyming text and soothing goodnight routines help set the tone for bedtime.  However, the one thing I did notice after repeated readings is that all of the vehicles shown are male.  I wish she could have worked in at least one female vehicle, as I think that would make the book more attractive to girls.

The illustrations add to the comfort and interest of the book.  Lichtenheld starts on the construction site is in full action, pouring cement, hauling heavy beams and transporting dirt.  The pictures of the vehicles are all accurate, with plenty of detail to appease a construction lover. Yet they also all have expressive eyes and features to give them added personality.  As the light dims and the site shuts down, listeners will enjoy all the other things they will spot on the pages.  The moon glows softly as the construction site grows silent.  The cement mixer cuddles up with a security blanket and I've already mentioned Crane Truck's teddy bear.  My favorite, though, is the Dump Truck.  He snores contentedly as a man throws open a window in a building across the alley.  The man hollers "Hey! Pipe Down!" as the snoring extends through the girders of the construction site.  The illustrations are personable and reward a careful viewer.

At the end of the book, the whole construction site is sleeping peacefully.  This is a book I wish I had had at my old library, where I did a monthly pajama storytime.  It would have been a soothing mix of big construction noises and quiet, peaceful sleep.  Goodnight, goodnight.

Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site.  Sherri Duskey Rinker and Tom Lichtenheld.  Scholastic, 2011.

Reviewed from my personal collection.

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