When a new construction project needs to get underway, it takes an army of people and machines, working together, to get the job done. Wreckers and planners, mixers and tippers, bulldozers and cranes all show up and do their thing. “They shave and shift and shove,” “they tumble and twist and turn,” and “they rattle and roll and roar.” With all that racket and jumble of activity, it’s hard to imagine anything actually getting built! But in construction, you have to create a little chaos before you build something beautiful. And at the end of the this book, the people who are coming find brand new homes waiting for them- “Everything’s done and they’re here to stay.”
So first of all, what kid doesn’t love a construction site. I have girls, and I will be the first to admit that they are not quite as in love with trucks and trains as my nephews, no matter how much I encourage them. But when we pass a construction site where things are getting knocked down and flattened and poured, it is nearly impossible to drag them away. Once when my oldest was about 3, a building was getting demolished near our apartment, and we had to plan an extra half hour on our walk to the grocery store just to stop and watch the machines do their work. So any book about a construction site is a great idea, in my opinion.
I’d like to talk about 2 things that I particularly like about this book. The first is the great use of alliteration. One of the things that makes construction site and machines so appealing to little kids is that they are noisy and dirty on purpose! Susan Steggall manages to keep a very consistent flow of alliteration going through the whole book, which mimics the hectic din of people and machines in the story. You really have to enunciate to wrap you mouth around her phrases, but it doesn’t end up feeling stretched or contrived, just crisp and busy, just like it should. The other really effective thing she does is to manipulate her text size, style, and placement to create that construction site feeling. She puts one bold letter in the middle of a word, or she rolls her text along the big wheel of a tractor, and she never puts more than two lines of verse next to each other on the page. This means that you have to be a little more careful as you read not to get things out of order, but she doesn’t go over the top with it. It is just enough, I think, to make the text itself a contributing part of the story, mirroring that rough and tumble, noisy and dirty feeling that kids like so much.
To find out if this book is at your public library, visit World Cat.
Visit Susan Steggall’s website to find out more about her and her work.