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Oh, the garbage man can!
on October 5, 2005
When you're a children's librarian that has to perform multiple storytimes every week, you acquire a kind of ear for picture books that read aloud well. For example, reading aloud "Horton Hatches the Egg" works well for a single child, but for a large group it's just too darn long. And unless you have a real rhythm going with "Chicka Chicka Boom Boom", don't try to perform it just off the top of your head. Then there are books like Andrea Zimmerman and David Clemesha's delicious, "Trashy Town". Combining a jaunty rhythmic story about a trash man on the job with the overly accomplished Dan Yaccarino's illustrations, "Trashy Town" falls into the category of "godsend" when it comes to books for big groups o' kiddies.
Mr. Gilly has a swell job. He's the trash man doing the route around his Trashy Town. With a perpetual look of benign happiness set on his face, Mr. Gilly visits the local school, the park, the pizza parlor, and even the doctor's office. Each time he collects some trash the text reads, "Dump it in, smash it down, drive around the Trashy Town! Is the trash truck full yet? NO". Reading this book aloud, kids can yell, "NO!" when they get to this part. Eventually, however, Mr. Gilly has finished for the day. The town is clean, the trash is deposited at the dump, and when Mr. Gilly gets home there's only one more thing to clean up. "Time for a bath, Mr. Gilly!".
Mr. Yaccarino has a signature style that has yet to be replicated by any illustrator out there. He's probably best known for being responsible, in part, for the picture book "Oswald", later turned into a Nick Jr. television show. In this book he fills the pages with simplified, almost retro images. These pictures are remarkably simple but convey the story beautifully. Likewise, the text is catchy. Kids reading it will learn it by heart pretty darn quick and will be able to do their own renditions of it at home.
For a storytime saluting garbage carriers everywhere, consider pairing "Trashy Town" with the slightly older, "I Stink" by Kate McMullan for a truly trash-centric program. And if you read this book and don't find yourself chanting, "Dump it in, smash it down, drive around the Trashy Town", I'll eat my hat.