Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Traction Man and the Beach Odyssey

Booklist starred (April 15, 2012 (Vol. 108, No. 16))

Preschool-Grade 2. Here’s another standout from a popular franchise. Traction Man Is Here! (2005) was great and Traction Man Meets Turbodog (2008) was even better. Here, just the endpapers in Traction Man’s third picture book would immediately make this purchase worthy. Just as every Ken needs a Barbie, the action-figure star meets his match in Beach Time Brenda (“Fully Accessorized with Lots and Lots of Stuff” and “Available in Light Pink, Mid Pink, or Sick Pink”). In this adventure, Traction Man and his trusty sidekick, Scrubbing Brush, are brought to the beach by their boy owner. They explore an underwater world of crabs and cockles, defend their picnic lunch from a hungry dog, and get swept out to sea by a vigorous wave. They’re rescued by a girl and squirreled away in a sand castle, where they meet two towering sirens called the Dollies (“You can stay in our castle FOR EVER!”). All ends well when, in a nice reversal, the Dollies show as much pluck as Traction Man in escaping as the castle crumbles. Grey supplies equal doses of humor and heroics in the zippy illustrations that play out the dual dramas on both human and miniature scales. The adventures that toys have apart from their owners is a surefire theme worth revisiting, and even more so when done with this much panache.

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