FIVE TRUCKS, by Brian Floca


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Ages 2 to 5

A Richard Jackson Book | Atheneum Books for Young Readers

Simon & Schuster Children's Books

(Originally published by Richard Jackson Books, DK Ink)



A Child Magazine Best Book

A Children’s Literature Choice Book

A Booklist Editor’s Choice

A Bank Street College of Education Children’s Book of the Year

A Children’s Book Council Children’s Choice

A Main Selection of the Children’s Book of the Month Club



Booklist (starred review):


"Add this title to your short list of Favorites for Truck Lovers. The book begins with a title-page illustration of a boy and a man struggling with a heavy suitcase; the scene shifts to five drivers walking toward their trucks. As the simple story unfolds, a series of five double-page spreads shows each driver at the wheel of his own special vehicle. One truck is large and heavy, another long and straight, but they are all headed in the same direction. The next series of spreads shows each truck in action: food is unloaded from the catering truck, luggage is unloaded from the baggage carts pulled by the tractor, luggage travels up the baggage conveyor, and so on, until the final image shows the drivers waving to an airplane as it climbs in the skies. Children who have never pressed their noses to an airport window may not recognize the setting, but others will have a chance to remember what airport trucks look like and learn what they do. If picture books about trucks are so easy to do, why do we see so many poor ones and so few as good as this? Floca offers a book that's simple enough for a two-year-old (prime age for the young truck enthusiast), without being boring or simple-minded. The artwork, ink line with watercolor washes, uses every spread to good advantage, showing the camaraderie of the drivers, and even the time of day, as clearly and subtly as the functions of the trucks. A pleasing picture book to read and (get ready, parents) reread." — Carolyn Phelan.


School Library Journal (starred review, 2014):


"With the sparest of texts, this book features airport vehicles rarely seen in preschool books as well as the trucks’ diverse drivers (men and women of various ethnicities). Unlike most counting books, the story introduces ordinal numbers (first, second, etc.) rather than cardinals (one, two, three). On the second appearance of each truck, the text counts back from the fifth to the first truck, adding another concept covered in the book. It’s when viewers see each truck for the second time that it is identified by name, e.g., catering truck, baggage conveyor, etc., in a different font, giving the feel of an informational book for young audiences. A wordless subplot about a boy with his dad and a colorful plaid suitcase starts on the title page. The suitcase is easily identifiable as it’s loaded onto the plane. The story culminates with the boy waving to the drivers from his airplane seat. While the crisp, clear illustrations, rendered in watercolor, ink, and gouache, are uncluttered, there is much to talk about in the pictures. Whether shared with vehicle-loving youngsters or general audiences, this book should satisfy many listeners/viewers with its rich content and engaging art." — Maralita L. Freeny.


The New York Times:


“If you have the kind of children who like to stop and watch construction vehicles doing their work, the kind fascinated by anything with wheels, then Brian Floca’s Five Trucks, and Food Trucks!, written and illustrated by Mark Todd, should find a long-term parking spot on their night tables.

Floca…brings his sharp-lined, detailed drawing style to the very angular vehicles that service commercial airplanes by delivering food, transporting luggage and pushing planes out to the runway…. Floca cleverly waits to make the airport setting explicit until the last few pages. Some children, on first reading, may identify the scene right away, but for those who don’t, the gradual unveiling of the context will bring pleasurable tension to a simple narrative.

Another strength of the book is that despite its title, machines are not Floca’s only focus. The drivers he depicts — three men and two women — are a collegial group, handing around paper cups of coffee, waving as one drives away and frowning together over bags making their way up a conveyor belt. Though some young readers might enjoy a book entirely about vehicles, the presence of the drivers should make Five Trucks engaging even to children who are more interested in human faces." Full review here.


The Wall Street Journal:


“The deft Brian Floca introduces a hint of mystery into what is really a straightforward presentation of collaborating vehicles in Five Trucks. Aimed at transportation enthusiasts between the ages of 2 and 6, this picture book is considerably simpler in style and image than Mr. Floca's 2014 Caldecott-winning Locomotive, but it is sophisticated in its way nonetheless.

Subtle clues are available to the small reader even before the text declares: "Five drivers for five trucks.”… As the clues multiply, we realize that the trucks are performing their complementary tasks to prepare a passenger jet for liftoff. In a lovely final moment, the drivers all wave goodbye to the little boy who has been watching them the whole time from inside the plane.” Full review here.


School Library Journal:


"In expressive watercolor cartoons, Floca introduces and describes the functions of five airport vehicles. The drivers, both male and female, seem to enjoy their work as they operate a catering truck, a tractor with baggage carts, a baggage conveyor, a tractor for checking airplane wheels, and a push-out tractor. Instructive, double-page, clear pictures and a simple text give a perfect explanation of the uses of these trucks. Pair this book with Byron Barton's Airport (Crowell, 1982) for an eye-opening look at what happens to aircraft on the ground." — Ann Welton


Horn Book Magazine:


""Five drivers for five trucks" begins this concept book, as five workers head out across a tarmac. A simple, descriptive statement on each spread introduces the trucks one at a time ("the first truck is large and heavy...the fourth truck twists and turns"); later spreads reveal the function of each truck. The slow, metered pace gains momentum as the spare information builds from spread to spread, culminating with the revelation that the five drivers and their trucks are preparing an airplane for take-off. Floca's watercolors zoom in on the machinery, showing the trucks and essential parts of the plane up close against washed-out backgrounds. The simplicity is engaging and age appropriate (even those who are clueless about airport operations will catch on quickly). And a second reading is even more fun than the first: at close inspection, there is more to see here than just a plane taking off. An orange-haired boy zooms a toy airplane across the inside front jacket flap toward the title page. And there he is on the title page tugging on Dad's belt and pointing out an oversized window while dad lugs an overstuffed, rainbow-colored plaid suitcase. We see the unmistakable suitcase again when "luggage is unloaded from the fourth truck" onto a (labeled) conveyor belt and when "the third truck carries luggage up its back" into the belly of the plane. And, lo and behold, there is the boy, waving from the airplane window just before take-off. Floca is adept at fleshing out and expanding our knowledge of the situation at hand with a few casual details. In the initial spread, one worker passes out cups of coffee as he catches up with the others. The following spread shows several discarded cups on the cab floor of the first truck-a subtle hint that the workers' routine is played out regularly. And, in the take-off scene, the workers wave to the departing plane, a simple gesture that effectively brings the boy's and the workers' stories together. Floca's ability to interweave so much story and atmosphere into a concept book is sure to raise our expectations of those to come." — Marilyn Bousquin


Kirkus Reviews:


"Floca offers a great explication of the small trucks that airline passengers see scurrying around jets on the runways. In brightly painted illustrations and simple descriptions, he introduces each vehicle, explains what it does, and shows it in action, e.g., the truck called the baggage conveyor is shown hoisting suitcases into the belly of the plane. All five trucks' duties point to a big finale when the plane takes off. Given preschoolers' well-documented fascination with heavy machinery, this book will strike a chord with young air travelers, and answer the questions of older travelers as well."