BooksForKidsBlog

Monday, December 07, 2015

I Think I Can! I Think I Can! The Little Snowplow by Lora Koehler

The gang at the maintenance garage of the Mighty Mountain Road Crew have powerful motors. They boast big blades and righteous rumbles and roars.

THEY COME IN ONE SIZE--BIG.

When a new and shiny little snowplow joins the crew, there are a lot of sidelong looks from their headlights, and grimaces from their grills. The new little guy doesn't look like he's got what it takes to move much of anything!

"YOU'RE SUCH A LITTLE SNOWPLOW," THE BIG TRUCKS SAID. "LEAVE THE HEAVY LIFTING TO US."

But the Little Snowplow is not dispirited. He sees their sneers and headlamp eye rolls, but he only becomes more determined to show he can do the job. In the spring he scrapes the silt from the streams so that they run clear, with no flooding. After the July 4 parade, he humbly scoops up the trash, and in the fall he pushes up the fallen leaves so that they can be composted. No job is too small for Little Snowplow.

But he has a plan. He knows he needs to show some muscle when the winter storms begin, so he uses gravel piles and concrete blocks as his gym equipment to bulk up his lifting ability. His workout includes multiple sets of plow lifts before bedtime. He keeps his tank full of diesel and his oil clean and clear. He's ready for whatever winter's snow and ice bring.

When the first snows come, he's up before the sun and on the job. He cleans the streets as the snow falls, while the big boys idle in the garage, waiting for the snow to become too much for him. Un-dissed, he soldiers on dutifully, clearing the same city streets over and over to keep traffic moving. He's nimble and quick, and he never stops working.

But then the Big Snow comes, one that challenges the Mighty Mountain Road Crew's mettle.

THIS SNOW IS TOO BIG FOR ANYONE TO HANDLE ON HIS OWN!" DUMP TRUCK GRUMBLED AS HE DROVE OUT.

The big boys hit the streets, engines roaring, proud to show off their might. But then, there's a frightening sound.

WHOOOOSH!

An avalanche of snow and rocks crashes down the mountain, burying Dump Truck in a cul de sac, And there's a big boulder blocking the big boys from digging him out. Only Little Snowplow is nimble enough to squeeze past the big rock and doughty enough to dig him out.

"WAY TO GO, HALF-PINT!" THE BEHEMOTHS BELLOW.

Chug over, Otis the tractor. Take a break, Katy the plow! Throttle back, Little Toot! Take the sidetrack, Little Engine That Could! There's a new mighty mite on the job in Lora Koehler's first book, The Little Snowplow (Candlewick Press, 2015), a classic tale of the little newbie with the can-do work ethic who shows the big guys that it takes all kinds to get the job done right.

Despite its oft-used premise, Koehler's tale is as fresh as last night's snowfall, and Jake Parker's pencil and digital color illustrations, with their anthropomorphic big vehicles' smirks and winks, are just as cutely charming as any of those stories of small but sturdy heroes on the shelf. Youngsters will relish seeing the little guy teach the grown-ups a lesson in determination. Says School Library Journal, "... this story is a modern take on a timeless message."

But don't mothball the other mighty mites. Pair or quadruple the fun of this new one with Loren Long's Otis, Virginia Lee Burton's Katy and the Big Snow, Hardie Gramatky's Little Toot, and the evergreen Christmas story, Watty Piper's The Little Engine That Could (Little Letters Edition).

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