It has only been two days since I reviewed a picture book, but this one was sitting on the list waiting to be reviewed, so we’re going to go ahead and do it.
I found this book when I was looking for something specific. I have a nephew who is really, really into building and construction and I was looking for a book for him, something new and different. I believe I did an Amazon search with some choice key words, and I came across this. It sounds crazy because the title kind of is: Extremely Cute Animals Operating Heavy Machinery, by David Gordon. There is something about it that smacks of one of those calendars of buff men snuggling puppies, but obviously more innocent. Still, there’s a fun play on concepts going on here which could be construed as blasting open boundaries. I mean, construction doesn’t have to be all grunting, flicking beer cans, and catcalling.
But that’s not obvious to this book. In fact, the title is clever, but it doesn’t actually fit the story. The story is about Karen and her friends, who are picked on repeatedly by Skyler and his friends. Terrorized, is more like. Karen and her friends just keep rebounding and building bigger and better sandcastles until they end up building an entire amusement park. There are no bullies allowed, until Karen peeks her head out to ask if Skyler would like to come in. In other words, it’s a book about advocating for yourself, triumphing against bullying, and inclusivity. Kindness wins.
Still, if your little nephew likes building and machines a whole lot—but he’s still just a nugget himself—then this is a book to put on his shelf. Otherwise, I’d give it a solid “Okay.” Decent illustrations. Decent story. Heavy-handed moral. I won’t tell you to go buy it and I won’t discourage you from it, either. Note that many of the readers who gave reviews on Goodreads commented that they were drawn in by the clever title and then disappointed.