Thursday, September 5, 2013

Twenty Big Trucks in the Middle of the Street, by Mark Lee & Kurt Cyrus (ages 3-5)

When I look for a great counting book, I am looking for a book that pulls young readers back to read it again and again. It has to have clear, dynamic illustrations and text that invites the adult to interact with the child while they read together. Mark Lee's debut picture book Twenty Big Trucks in the Middle of the Street is a fantastic new counting book, perfect for little kids wowed by huge, towering trucks.

Twenty Big Trucks
in the Middle of the Street
by Mark Lee
illustrated by Kurt Cyrus
Candlewick, 2013
available at
your local library
ages 3-5
*best new book*
A little boy watches as an ice-cream truck rumbles down the street. When the ice-cream truck breaks down, it blocks middle of the street. This leads to a chain-reaction traffic jam, with truck after truck getting stuck in the street. Lee's rhyming text is wonderful to read aloud, adding interest for parents and children. He uses the page turns perfectly, building suspense along the way.
"A mail truck stops, so now there are two.
Their drivers don't know what to do.

Watch out! Two trucks are in the way.
They stop a third truck carrying hay."
We start realizing the pattern just as the little guy on his bike starts counting the trucks. Kurt Cyrus, veteran picture book author and illustrator, captures our attention with bold digital illustrations.

I love how Lee and Cyrus each layer in many aspects to this counting book, inviting repeated readings. Some kids will spend hours naming each type of truck, while others will notice all of the different items the trucks carry.

Cyrus keeps the little kid on the bike as part of each picture, helping kids see themselves in this busy traffic jam, but he switches up the perspective throughout, zooming in and out of the scene. My favorite spread is near the end, looking down at the whole big mess, when you can count each truck that's piled up waiting for the ice cream truck to move.

Best of all: the little kid comes up with the final solution!

The review copy was kindly sent by the publishers, Candlewick Press. The illustrations are copyright ©2013 Kurt Cyrus, share with permission of the publisher. If you make a purchase using the Amazon links on this site, a small portion goes to Great Kid Books (at no cost to you!). Thank you for your support.

20 BIG TRUCKS IN THE MIDDLE OF THE STREET. Text copyright © 2013 by Mark Lee. Illustrations copyright © 2013 by Kurt Cyrus. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Candlewick Press, Somerville, MA.

©2013 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books


  1. Thanks for the review! I can see this really winning the imaginations of kids who are especially drawn to trucks and other vehicles.

  2. We loved this one! I think you are right on about the author's ability to pull the reader again and again. I really admire his creativity. Visually too the book is very nicely done! Thanks for sharing this on September Carnival