Readers familiar with Virginia Lee Burton will know her penchant for bringing inanimate objects to life. This is a wonderful addition to those books, perfect for young children between the ages of 2 and 6. This story was a favorite in my household when I was a child, much to the dismay of my mother who wished we would select anything else for a change! (She got sick of reading it more than once a week) ^_^
The star of this book, in case anyone hasn't guessed, is a tractor named Katy who is a bulldozer in the summer and a snowplow in the winter in the city of Geopolis. Geopolis could be any small city. When a huge blizzard leaves several feet of snow behind, it is up to Katy to save the day, getting everyone where they need to go in Geopolis. As the only vehicle that hasn't been stopped by the snow, Katy must prove her toughness and sense of duty by spending the whole day clearing the streets, earning a satisfying and well-needed rest at the end of the story. That's really the whole story. Sound a bit uneventful? Well, yes. There's never a doubt that Katy will succeed in her task. There isn't a great deal of interaction with human characters besides getting them where they are going. So for a child who wants a complex plot more along the lines of MIKE MULLIGAN AND HIS STEAM SHOVEL, they may be disappointed. But, as I said, this book was a favorite in my house, and there were several reasons why.
Repetition: stories for younger children with regularly repeated phrases like this one are worthwhile to the listener, if not always the reader. Throughout the book the main line-`"Follow me," said Katy'--is repeated every time Katy happens across more citizens in need. Children will soon be providing that line on their own in the course of the story. Maps: This was my first real introduction to maps, and it's a great tool for enabling your child to understand how maps work as they follow Katy's route through Geopolis. They can trace her path on the page, and find the places she's headed to or hasn't plowed out yet. You can begin to discuss concepts of North, South, East and West with them, and maybe even break out maps of your own city or town for their perusal and comparison. The pictures are simply drawn with lovely borders, and their young audience easily understands them. Snow: It's a great introduction to what can happen during a snowstorm and the kind of trucks needed to clear the way. It's a crisis without ever being a scary crisis for kids and still addresses the problems of a blizzard-getting a patient to the hospitals, getting the firemen to a fire, getting the kids to school.
For the most part, I don't recommend this book for older children. Even five and six year-olds might have outgrown this, unless they're reading the book on their own. But it's a great book to read to younger children, especially if you live in a snowy clime! If this is your first experience with this author, I highly recommend you check out MIKE MULLIGAN AND HIS STEAM SHOVEL and THE LITTLE HOUSE.
Happy Reading! Shanshad ^_^