Little Excavator

Book review by
Jan Carr, Common Sense Media
Little Excavator Book Poster Image
Fun, fast-paced construction story is truck lover's delight.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Names of various types of construction trucks. Different trucks have different tasks. Rhyming sounds.

Positive Messages

When little folks can attempt big jobs, they learn and develop skills. If big jobs are too challenging for you, you can find jobs that are just the right size and fit. It's fun to beautify a neglected space and turn it into a park for public enjoyment.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Though Little E has trouble doing big jobs, he keeps trying. He picks himself up and persists. The bigger trucks encourage him and cheer him on when he finds a job that's exactly the right size. The trucks transform a forgotten space into a public park.

Violence & Scariness
Language

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Little Excavator is a fun truck book with catchy rhymes and lots of percussive sounds by Anna Dewdney, the late author-illustrator of the beloved Llama, Llama books (Llama Llama Mad at Mama). Young readers will identify with Little E, who can’t keep up with the big construction trucks working to turn an abandoned lot into a park but ends up being just the right size to put the finishing touch on the job. Little E has a buoyant, can-do spirit, and all's cozy in this appealing book about trucks beautifying a public space.

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What's the story?

In LITTLE EXCAVATOR, a crew of burly construction trucks transforms a trash-strewn lot into a beautiful park. Little E (for "Excavator") is the only little truck on the team -- and too little to do any of the work required. Though he keeps trying, he just seems to get in the big trucks' way. But when the big trucks install a small bridge to reach an island in the middle of the pond, Little E is the only one who can fit over the narrow bridge to reach the island. There, he digs a hole and plants a tree, making him a "mighty little excavator" indeed.

Is it any good?

This upbeat book featuring a crew of hardworking construction trucks plus one pint-sized but determined little excavator is a natural for young truck lovers. Little Excavator has an encouraging moral about hard work, persistence, and the special contributions of the young embedded in a story about beautifying a neglected and trash-filled vacant lot.

Author-illustrator Anna Dewdney is a master at rhyme, which is never as easy as it looks. She keeps her rhymes simple so the rhythms scan and roll easily off the tongue, while sprinkling them with lots of really fun, rumbly words for construction sounds -- for instance, "GrrrrrrRrarrrrrrm! goes the LOADER, lifting up the trash! Pusha-pusha smusha-smusha SMASH SMASH SMASH!" How fun is that! The book's a pleasure to read, allowing parents and kids alike to channel a host of inner -- and noisy -- construction trucks.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the various construction vehicles in Little Excavator. Can you name them?

  • What specific jobs can each truck do? How are the trucks designed to do them?

  • Do you ever feel like Little E: too little to do big jobs? What jobs are just right for you?

Book details

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For kids who love vehicles

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