Somehow author Babrbara Odanaka and illustrator WIll HIllenbrand have gotten insides the heads of the toddler set in this energetic and funny story about trash day. It brings back a lot of memories: Both as a father and as a kid, I saw how trashmen (and now, women) held a mysterious fascination for anyone who got up early enough to see them ride herd on a massive truck, overturning EVERYONE's garbage cans, and making a huge racket in the otherwise quiet dawn--and they didn't even get in trouble for it. It's alive, and also larger-than-life, just the way a toddler might feel about this mighty, mouthy truck:
"Down the street--hey, look, it's there! Truck just chomped a broken chair." A tongue and (yellow) teeth appear as the garbage pigs throw wonderfully stinky, trashy, silly things towards it's hungry mouth. Yet, neither the massive pigs nor the animated colossal truck are scary. The three dogs and two little pigs run excitedly around, delighted by this socially acceptable messy action:
"Stinky diapers? Coffee grounds? Load it UP and smash it DOWN... "Gooey, gloppy.Slimy, sloppy. Truck's a rolling bug buffet. Flies a-buzzin' by the dozen--lapping up that cheese souffle (pictured in the mouth of the truck!).
The rhymes don't skirt the issue--this IS garbage, after all--but it never feels gross or artificial. WIth the exception of "souffle," the words are easy to understand and the poetic narrative is both funny and unforced. Hillenbrand uses egg tempura and ink on canvas; the textures he achieves convey so much dimension that at first I thought he used collage as well. THe book moves as quickly as those early morning garbage collectors of one's youth. THe early morning escapade flows seamlessly into the animal kids' next activity... "Come on, let's play!" Fortunately, they own some mini-garbage trucks--it's gonna be a FUN day at this house!
Beautifully drawn trashscapes and an exuberant cast and narrative elevate this trashy tale. HIghly recommended!