Saturday, 11 September 2010

Little Red Ute Visits the Farm; Little Red Ute and The Dump Trucks

Little Red Ute Visits the Farm and Little Red Ute and The Dump Trucks written by Mitch Lewis, illustrated by Nahum Ziersch (Omnibus Books for Scholastic Aust)
PB RRP $9.99
Recommended for 3+ years
Reviewed by Dawn Meredith

Little Red Ute loves adventure. Where there’s excitement and someone needing help, he’s there, with his friend Green Wheelbarrow, who rides in the tray.

In this adventure he’s on the farm, helping Farmer White, who wants to get the barn wind proofed before winter. But the foreman isn’t sure Little Red can actually be much help, so he sends Little Red Ute on a tour of the farm, meeting other important machinery such as the tractor and the combine harvester. But wait, what’s that? Someone is dangling dangerously from the roof of the barn? Little Red Ute speeds away across the dirt to rescue the foreman.

Ziersch’s illustrations are vibrant, full of colour and action, with faces on each machine reminiscent of the ‘Bob the Builder’ and ‘Thomas the Tank Engine’ series. It’s appealing and the story neatly educates children about farm life, the animals that live there and the tasks to be done.

In Little Red Ute and The Dump Trucks our hero is dauntingly impressed by the huge trucks in his yard, who ferry huge loads and thunder past, ‘casting him in shadow’. Like a pesky puppy, Little Red Ute wants to help, but what can a tiny ute do to assist these monster trucks? The foreman angrily tells Little Red Ute to get out of the way.

But then, you guessed it, something goes wrong and the foreman needs his help. (Doesn’t that foreman ever learn?) A convoy of logging trucks has overturned and have no fuel left. Little Red Ute scurries back and forth to the depot to bring them fuel. He works tirelessly, just like the dump trucks and is rewarded with praise from the foreman and a toot from the school bus. Aw!

There are a couple of themes I like about these stories. One is children wanting to help and adults supposing they are ‘in the way’ and the other is children proving they can work just as hard when they are motivated.

Dawn Meredith is a May Gibbs Fellow for 2010 and writes from the Blue Mountains.

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