Yellow truck road train by Mandy Tootall

cover image

Allen & Unwin, 2020. ISBN: 9781760525811.
(Age: 4+) Highly recommended. The multi media approach with pen, ink, gouache and collage, creates a landscape instantly identifiable as outback northern Australia. Along the dusty Buntine Highway (Daly Waters in the NT to Nicholson in Western Australia) we see the ever present gangs grading the roads with their machinery, the constant threat of kangaroos jumping in front of the truck, the side tracks where cattle are collected, loads of feral donkeys and the danger of wandering buffalo.
In this wonderful celebration of the road train and its work, ferrying animals across Australia, younger readers will thrill with the young boy as he rides the roads with his father, Matches, the long haul driver of the yellow road train.
They pass pandanas, cycads and termite mounds, a horse and rider, other trucks, calling to each other by name. They stop for truck steak cooked on an open camp fire, and sleep behind the driver's wheel in a bunk. When it begins to rain Dad knows this will be the last cattle haul till next year, and getting bogged, needs Kelly and the loader to pull him out of trouble.
The wonderful full page images of the road train will delight younger readers, and the lift out pages which make a four page view of the road train and all of its innards will keep readers intrigued, poring over the splendid detail. Kids will learn a great deal from this lovely book: about the road trains and what they do, about the families behind the drivers, of living along the route and those they meet along the highways of Australia.
Alert eyes will pick out the detail of the truck and its travel, the background of each page filled in with maps of the route, the changing sky scape, the detail within the truck's cabin, comparing it all with the photo on the last page of Matches and his family, complete with the poddy calf. A handy glossary covers some words used in the story which may be new to those not living in the outback. Themes: Road train, Trucking, Northern Territory, Outback.
Fran Knight