The day dawns sunny and clear with the entire group gathered. Each individual has a task to complete. Each task contributes to a larger whole. Engines rumble to life as the work begins.
Though all members of the crew know exactly what to do, one remains unmoving. What if every individual does not have a task to complete? In a companion title to Bulldozer's Big Day (Atheneum Books For Young Readers, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing Division, May 5, 2015) written and illustrated by Candace Fleming and Eric Rohmann, Bulldozer Helps Out (A Caitlyn Dlouhy Book, Atheneum Books For Young Readers, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing Division, May 16, 2017) written and illustrated by Candace Fleming and Eric Rohmann tackles this very real situation. Everyone has talents. They are not always revealed until circumstances demand it.
The construction site bustled.
Cement Mixer, Crane Truck and Digger Truck were busily doing what they do best. Bulldozer was not being very productive. He needed an assignment. He knew he could help; he wanted to help.
When he approached the other trucks offering his assistance, they easily listed reasons he could not work with them. As he moved to leave, they exchanged glances. Crane had an idea. He pointed to a small area needing rubble removed.
Bulldozer eagerly dashed toward the spot, his blade vibrating with anticipation. Suddenly he stopped! He was not expecting this situation. Carefully he moved a little bit here and a little bit there and then he waited. He waited for a long time.
Eventually the other trucks rolled up to Bulldozer wondering why the site looked untouched. Disappointment filled their remarks. When he wouldn't budge, they were flabbergasted at his audacity. He kept shushing them; no easy job with seven trucks. Before they uttered another word or made another sound, something caught their attention. This was the job Bulldozer was meant to do.
Using onomatopoeia and repetition Candace Fleming fashions a cadence inviting readers back to the construction site. Her concise sentences mixed with the dialogue of the trucks heighten the appeal for the intended audience. Each of her words is carefully chosen allowing readers to connect with the particular moods in which all the trucks find themselves. Here is a sample passage.
"See over there?" Crane pointed.
"That needs to be cleared and flattened."
"I can do it! I can do it! cried Bulldozer.
"So what are you waiting for, kid?" grumbled Roller Truck.
When you look at a book illustrated using the remarkable techniques of Eric Rohmann, you know infinite care has gone into the making of the artwork. They are rendered
using relief (block) prints. Three plates were used for each image. The first two plates were printed in multiple colors, using a relief printmaking process called "reduction printing." The last plate was the "key" image, which was printed in black over the color.
Each one framed in thick black lines looks as if you could hang it on a wall in a gallery. Notice the faint outline of the cityscape in the background on the dust jacket, front and back. The trucks and Bulldozer, done in primary colors, pop off the page. Do you see the hint of the story's outcome tucked in the lower left-hand corner? Running your fingers over the title text reveals the raised font.
Across the title page is a blue on blue cityscape in the background with the trucks beginning their work of the day. Most of the images span two pages with altered perspectives amplifying the mood. The eyes on the trucks tell a powerful tale.
One of my favorite of many illustrations is when Bulldozer is giving the job of clearing the small site. He charges down an incline on the left, bursting forth from the framing. As he yells
he races up the other side of the little valley. Small puffs of smoke are coming from his stack. His eyes are closed in pure bliss. This image gives a greater impact to those which follow.
For fans of the first title or anyone who enjoys seeing the "little guy" find his place in the scheme of a given day (or more), Bulldozer Helps Out written and illustrated by Candace Fleming and Eric Rohmann is the perfect book. It's guaranteed to generate a gasp from readers of all ages at the surprise twist. Comments by the older trucks will most definitely connect with adults. Be sure to have a copy on your professional and personal bookshelves.
To discover more about Candace Fleming and Eric Rohmann and their other work please visit their websites by following the links attached to their names. At the publisher's website you can view interior images but there are spoilers. At the MackinVIACommunity site Candace Fleming and Eric Rohmann are interviewed together. Betsy Bird on her blog, A Fuse #8 Production, includes this title in a group of construction titles which she evaluates.