In Canada, today, January 27, 2012, is Family Literacy Day. What a great day to share a picture book written by members of a family!

Title: Dumpy the Dump Truck

Author: Julie Andrews Edwards and Emma Walton Hamilton

Illustrator:  Tony Walton

Publisher: New York: Hyperion Books for Children, 2000.

Genre: Picture book, Fiction

Audience Age: 3-8

Theme: trucks, working together, cooperation, recycling (fix it, don’t trash it), creative problem solving, intergenerational relations

Excerpt: (Note: These are not the first lines of the book, I went further into the text, to find the first mention of Dumpy.)

“COCK-A-DOODLE-DOO!” crowed the rooster on the old barn roof. (He does it every morning.)

As the sun rose over the hill, something twinkled in the tall grass beside the barn. Among the berries and thistles, there was a cracked mirror … a flat tire … a twisted fender … and a sooty smokestack.

What could it possibly be?

Synopsis: The old barn at Merryhill Farm is going to be torn down, and Dumpy, the rusty old dump truck that has been stalled in the grass beside the barn is going to be dumped. Charlie and his grandfather, Pop-Up, decide to fix Dumpy up and get him running again. To do that takes cooperation and hard work, but they’re able to save Dumpy, and Dumpy in turn is able to then do his share of the work.

Why I Like This Book: It’s good to see a book that is geared toward boys, and that is a story about trucks and other machines, rather than a fact book about them. Charlie and his grandfather are obviously close, and work together well as a team. This, and the fact that Dumpy is an old truck that is shown not to have passed its useful stage, subtly gives the message that older does not mean useless. Tony Walton’s illustrations are delightful. The reason I chose this book for Family Literacy Day is two-fold. First of all, the book itself is a family effort, since the authors, Julie and Emma, are a mother and daughter team, and the illustrator, Tony, is Emma’s father. (I will suggest an activity relating to this.) Also, other books in the Dumpy series have been written as leveled readers, so they are ideal for children just learning to read on their own.

Activities/Resources: At the Julie Andrews Collection website, there are both coloring pages (drawn by Tony) and a Party Pack with printable party invitations, hats, and stickers (scroll down past Mousical and Simeon’s Gift).   There are even Dumpy pajamas!   (Note that there are also Very Fairy Princess PJs at Books to Bed. Shipping only to the U.S., unfortunately.)

The Louis Braille School made a story box for blind children based on Dumpy the Dump Truck

Bright Hub Education has a Kindergarten Transportation Unit featuring trucks.

The fact that this book was written by a mother-daughter-father team could encourage other families to write and illustrate their own picture books – a perfect activity for Family Literacy Day or any day.

Availability: Readily available in Hardcover.

# 11 in Perfect Picture Book Fridays. See all this week’s Perfect Picture Books at Susanna Leonard Hill’s blog, or find the entire listing at her “Perfect Picture Books.”


P.S. Don’t forget the giveaway for two copies of Emma Walton Hamilton’s book Raising Bookworms! Details on this post.

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