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The Rusty, Trusty Tractor


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About the Author

Joy Cowley is the award-winning author of more than 300 books for children, including Big Moon Tortilla and Mrs. Wishy-Washy. She lives in New Zealand.

Olivier Dunrea is the author and illustrator of The Trow-Wife's Treasure and The Painter Who Loved Chickens. He lives in Narrowsburg, New York.


K-Gr 2-This quiet picture book celebrates the connection between an old farmer and his 50-year-old tractor. Granpappy's commitment to his old friend is frustrating for Mr. Hill, a tractor salesman, and a bit mysterious to his young grandson Micah. After all, it has cracked tires, a worn-out seat cushion, and no cab enclosure. Mr. Hill's lot, on the other hand, is full of bright, shiny vehicles with heat, air conditioning, and even sound systems. The salesman bets 20 jelly doughnuts that the old tractor won't make it through the season. But Granpappy uses it to plow, plant, mow, rake, and bale 20 acres of hay-and it even starts up smoothly when it's needed to pull Mr. Hill's car out of a mud puddle. Cowley combines pleasantly evocative language ("The rest of spring came through at a gallop") with a straightforward plot and minimal but effective characterization to create an engaging story. Dunrea's gouache illustrations are reminiscent of Nancy Wilson Parker's flat, simple style, showing readers an old-fashioned farm, a tow-headed Micah clad in overalls, and a mustachioed Granpappy. Their static charm suits the low-key story perfectly. Given the popularity of books about farms, families, and "things that go," this title will appeal to a wide audience.-Lisa Dennis, The Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, PA Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.

Newer is not always betterÄat least in the eyes of Granpappy, who stands by his rusty, trusty red tractor though flashier, more modern models come along. Mr. Hill, a tractor salesman, is sure the tractor won't make it through another season, and wagers 20 jelly doughnuts, one for every acre of Granpappy's crop of hay. Young Micah, more than a little interested in the models in Mr. Hill's showroom, doesn't understand his grandfather's resistance to change, but then he watches Granpappy successfully coax the tractor ("chugga, chugga, chugga") through the strenuous planting and haying seasons. After that, Granpappy's "antique bucket of rust" even has enough steam left in her to tow Mr. Hill's car out of the mud. Granpappy is a likable old codger, loyal and not easily swayed. Cowley's (Agapanthus Hum and the Eyeglasses) easygoing pace and down-home diction invite readers into a warm family story filled with nuggets of wisdom. Dunrea (The Trow-Wife's Treasure; The Painter Who Loved Chickens) is no stranger to farm settings. Here his paintings are airier and more conventional than in his previous works, both in their palette and ever-so-slightly cartoonlike draftsmanship. Granpappy sports a white mustache as brushy as a broom, which conceals his mouth, and his eyes are often shaded by a big hatÄwithout clues to his facial expressions, he comes across as playfully inscrutable, and his very posture telegraphs his implacability. Kids will love the bright array of tractors on the endpapers. Ages 4-8. (Feb.)

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