Big Machines: The Story Of Virginia Lee Burton (Sherri Duskey Rinker)

Hello, friends! Today’s book is Big Machines: The Story Of Virginia Lee Burton, written by our friend Sherri Duskey Rinker and illustrated by John Rocco, a sweet picture book biography of the classic children’s author and illustrator that explores her life, work, and inspiration.

Virginia Lee Burton was known by the residents in her town of Folly Cove as a beautiful, charming, and talented woman. She could dance, grew beautiful flowers, and was a skilled artist and designer. “Jinnee,” would draw beautiful illustrations that made the seasons change, or brought heroes and horses and dinosaurs to life. But her very favorite thing to draw was that which her sons, Ari and Michael, loved best: the big machines. For them, she drew trains, diggers, cable cars, and snow plows, bringing them to life from nothingness and giving them names and personalities that filled her sons with delight. She told inspiring stories with her big machines about kindness, friendship, and loyalty, and she shared these stories with the children of the world, creating a collection of children’s books that are still beloved today.

This was such a warm, sweet story, and I adored it. Burton was very ahead of her time, being a female mid-century author/illustrator who insisted on complete creative control, writing books about heavy machinery that included female protagonists. It was fun learning more about her process and sons; these, in fact, make the book as much a look at Burton herself as it is a celebration of the creative arts and a mother’s love for her children, and gives the story miles of heart. The art is gorgeous, bringing Burton and her work to life with soft, fanciful illustrations that draws the reader into Jinnee’s imagination. The length is good, and JJ enjoyed it, so this one is definitely Baby Bookworm approved!

Mighty, Mighty Construction Site (Sherri Duskey Rinker & Tom Lichtenheld)

Hello, friends! Our book today is the charming Mighty, Mighty Construction Site, written by Sherri Duskey Rinker and illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld, a fun and informative story about construction vehicles, cooperation, and teamwork.

The team from Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site wakes up to a brand new day, stretching, fueling up and getting ready to build. When they unfurl the blueprint, they are in awe; it’s their biggest project yet! They’re not sure that their little five-vehicle team can do it alone, so they call in help: a whole fleet of construction vehicles and heavy machinery! All the machines work together to build their project, each one bringing something special to the job. And when the day is done, they may be worn out, but by working together, they’ve gotten the job done in no time flat.

This was a phenomenal book for little readers who are interested in big vehicles! In cheerful rhyming text, each machine is named and has a description of the function they perform, including some trucks I’d never even heard of! I also love that beyond the vehicles themselves, hard work and cooperation are stressed as main themes, showing children that everyone brings something to the table and working together is the best way to achieve one’s goals. The illustrations are adorable, and give endearing personality to each machine. The length is good, and JJ and I enjoyed it! Rinker and Lichtenheld’s collaborations are always a delight, and this one does not disappoint. Baby Bookworm approved!

Silly Wonderful You (Sherri Duskey Rinker)

Hello friends, and happy Mother’s Day! In honor of the occasion, we read a favorite from our own library: Silly Wonderful You, written by Sherri Duskey Rinker and illustrated by Patrick McDonnell. It’s an adorable celebration of moms and their little ones, and the joys, frustrations, and incomparable rewards of motherhood.

As narrator, a mother addresses her young toddler about how much life has changed since the little girl came to be. She notes that ever since there was her, the house was never so messy or LOUD! The mother could never have predicted just how many stuffed animals would move in with her daughter, or how wonderful her glitter-and-glue artworks would be. She never would have imagined the splashy baths or the sticky messes or the impromptu frolics in the park. And now that life has changed so drastically in the wake of her boisterous, joyful, aggravating, unique child? She simply wouldn’t want to imagine things any other way.

This is a classic love letter about mother and child, and it’s an absolutely lovely one. The text has an unusual cadence, using rhymes and onomatopoeia as emphasis rather than throughout, but it fits the theme of the somewhat chaotic nature of raising a toddler. Fans of McConnell’s comic strip Mutts will recognize his distinctive pen-and-ink drawings, and he draws each preposterous and precious moment with obvious fondness and care. The length is perfect, it’s one of JJ’s favorite bedtime stories, and it always warms my heart by the last page. A fabulous story for mommies and their little ones, and it’s absolutely Baby Bookworm approved!

(Note: Our copy of this book was gifted to The Baby Bookworm by the author. This does not affect the impartiality of our review.)