In Ann Stott’s Want to Play Trucks? two toddlers meet at a playground and engage in the communication and compromise necessary for creative play. Alex and Jack, who meet there regularly, are always referred to by their names in the text; refreshingly, no pronouns are ever used to assign their gender.
Jack likes trucks, ones that wreck things, and Alex likes pink, sparkly dolls. Jack’s play is more physical and aggressive; at one point, the truck destroys a large pile of sand while Alex watches with hesitation. The two attempt to play yet can’t agree on whether to play with dolls or trucks, finally deciding to play “dolls that drive trucks.” When the toy crane comes out and Jack says that no one can wear a tutu and drive a crane, Alex takes offense. An argument ensues until Jack clarifies: “It wouldn’t fit in the driver’s seat.” But of course. So the tutu comes off, and the doll, now in overalls, can happily operate the crane.
An ice cream truck that visits the playground eventually trumps all imaginative play in the sandbox, and agreeing on ice cream is a cinch.
Stott’s text, laid out in simple sentences and uncomplicated dialogue, is matched by illustrator Bob Graham’s soft, spacious watercolors. As with any book illustrated by Graham, it’s fun for readers to take in the details around the children—such as the children’s caregivers chatting intensely behind them and the other park-goers, including one in a wheelchair and a woman in a headscarf. It’s a truly inclusive playground.
Want to Play Trucks? is a joyful, authentic tribute to the dynamics of children’s play.