Saturday, September 19, 2009

I Can! : Melvin Might? by Jon Scieszka

Cement Mixer Melvin worries.

Melvin worries "I might get dirty."

Melvin worries, "I might get stuck."

"I might get worried," Melvin worries.

Melvin the Mixer is a machine who likes to, um, turn things over in his mind. And when his friends Jack the Truck and Payloader Pete show him their latest tricks, well, Melvin should be worried.

Jack and Pete exhort Melvin to follow them in their latest Evel Knievel daredevil routine, an act which involves roaring downhill, launching themselves from a broken bridge, soaring over an deeply excavated work site, and splashing and nearly crashing onto the other side. Rescue Rita, the little emergency vehicle, feels sure she can roar and soar with the biggest of them, but Melvin is prudent enough to realize that Jack and Pete's fun is pure folly!

"Oh, no!" says Melvin. I can't try THAT!"

But when Jack and Pete splash down safely on the other side of the abyss, little Rita screws up her courage to begins her downhill run. She roars. She soars. But Rita doesn't quite splash. Rita finds herself stuck at the edge of the hole and beginning to roll backward toward the bottom. "Help, help!" she beeps, but the daredevil machines are over the hill and far away, and if Rescue Rita is to be rescued, it's going to have to be the timid Melvin!

In an kid-pleasing four-page gate fold, we see Melvin roaring to rescue Rita, soaring off the bridge, spraying cement to close up the gaping excavation, and slowly shoving the little EMS truck up the steep slope to safety.

"I can try. I can try. I can try!" Melvin recites to himself as he pushes Rita over the top to solid ground just as his braggart buddies race back to the scene.

"Melvin," honks Pete. "You did it. You roared. You soared. You really splashed."

"I know," says Melvin.

And with that modest admission, our risk-averse hero safely escorts little Rita slowly home.

With a bit of humorous borrowing from Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel and The Little Engine That Could, in his Melvin Might? (Trucktown), author Jon Scieszka and his road crew of illustrators, David Shannon, Loren Long, and David Gordon, have extended their Trucktown series with the tale of Melvin, a circumspect but altruistic cement truck who risks all for a friend. As in the other books, the anthropomorphic vehicles are energetic, earnest, and full of personality, but this story has the added bonus of introducing Melvin the thinking man's cement mixer to Scieszka's readers.

Other "smashing" titles in the Jon Scieszka's Trucktown series include Who's That Truck? (Jon Scieszka's Trucktown), What a Wreck! (Jon Scieszka's Trucktown), Smash! Crash! (Jon Scieszka's Trucktown), and Meet Jack Truck! (Jon Scieszka's Trucktown).



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