Thursday, May 23, 2013

Virtual Tour for Young Readers + Guest Post - Truck Stop by Anne F. Rockwell (Illustrated by Melissa Iwai)

Truck Stop cover.jpgTitle: Truck Stop
Author: Anne F. Rockwell
Illustrator: Melissa Iwaii
 Pages: 40
Published: May 16th 2013 by Viking Juvenile 
ISBN: 9780670062614
Source: Sent for honest review

 Description: Early each morning,  before the sun is even up,  the Truck Stop opens for breakfast,  and the trucks start pulling in.  Eighteen wheeler,  milk tank, moving van, and flatbed!  Their drivers order eggs and bacon, pancakes with syrup, and a blueberry muffin. For the boy who helps his parents at the counter, there is nothing better than seeing all the trucks roll in; he knows every single one . . . and can tell when one is missing!

I Give This ...

I had a hard time reviewing this book.  Not because I didn't like it.  But, I feel it has a somewhat limited audience.

I have 2 children, both happen to be girls.  My oldest is kind of past picture books but my youngest loves them.  This book never caught her interest.   However, she's not into trucks at all.  So, I took it to school to read to my preschoolers.  I read it to my younger class who I felt the book was maybe a little bit more geared towards.  I should have taken into account that that class has one boy.  I don't think the girls really cared.   But that one little boy LOVED this book.  He kept commenting on the pictures.  I'm not sure he grasped the concept of the story though.

I liked the story.  I thought it had a good message on working as a family and helping your community.  These people that the little boy saw everyday were as much a part of his family and his mom and dad.  It really showed when the one truck didn't show up in the morning and he kept his eye out for it all the way to school.

A book I would definitely recommend for younger boys.  

Happy Breakfast to All

Anne Rockwell

As an author of over 100 picture books, I'm often surprised to see the finished product. A picture book is a perfect union of words and pictures as seen by a young child. A lot can go wrong between dream and reality. But I loved Truck Stop when I saw it as a book with Melissa’s illustrations. Melissa’s interpretation of my words fit seamlessly, and I saw not my words or her pictures, but a finished book. And the book once illustrated is about friendship, comforting and predictable routine of getting together at their truck stop. The boy narrator/hero looks out for his pals, and even finds the one who’s missing.

Since my book is about breakfast at a truck stop café, Melissa and I thought it would be fun to share our favorite morning meals. Mine is café au lait in a French rural café, France’s version of a truck stop. I mean café au lait where the café owner pours hot milk from a pitcher in one hand, black chicory flavored coffee from a pitcher in the other hand, into a bowl, not a cup. He brings a fresh baked baguette, a bit of butter, and jam. (Breakfast is the only meal in France where butter is offered with bread.) You might even be able to get a jus d’orange pressée.

But that’s a dream breakfast. My favorite substitute at home in the States is a homemade blueberry muffin, or blueberry pancakes. As well as black coffee please! And don’t forget the orange juice!

You can check Melissa’s blog That’s where she gives a great and healthy recipe ( for flatbed’s driver’s blueberry muffin. You can see her portrait of this driver her illustrations in our book Truck Stop, published by Viking May 16. Yes—muffins right out of the oven, and a picture book right off the press.

melissaiwai2011.jpgMelissa Iwai

When I was first offered to illustrate Anne’s story, Truck Stop, I was thrilled because I was already a fan of her work, and I loved the story. The setting—a truck stop diner—is very unique. In fact, when I was doing research for the book, I found there were no other truck stop books out there! I also love the way Anne wove together elements of family, friends, and food in Truck Stop. In my illustrations I wanted to communicate that warm feeling one has when eating a hearty breakfast among loved ones—the perfect way to start the day!

Thinking of breakfast foods, one of my family’s favorites is popovers.  The first time I ever ate a popover was when I was recently transplanted in New York many years ago. It was at an expensive restaurant on the Upper West Side that specialized in—you guessed it—popovers. Fast forward fourteen years to our home in Brooklyn when we discovered how easy it is to make them from scratch! The ingredients are butter, eggs, milk, flour, and a pinch of salt—that’s it. It is amazing the way the popovers expand and “pop over” the muffin tin in the oven. But don’t be tempted to open the oven door too soon or they will deflate and you will have popovers no more…!

Here is the recipe we use for our breakfast popovers (from Pretend Soup, by Mollie Katzen):

popover-flash (2).jpg

2 tablespoons melted butter
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1 cup flour
¼ teaspoon salt
1.    Preheat oven to 375 degrees, and melt butter.
2.    Brush the insides of 12 muffin cups with melted butter.
3.    Break eggs into the mixing bowl.
4.    Add milk and beat well.
5.    Add flour and salt and whisk until reasonable well blended – it doesn’t have to be perfect.
6.    Use a ¼-cup measure with a handle to pour batter into each muffin cup. They should be one-half to two-thirds full.
7.    Bake 30 minutes without opening the oven.
8.    Remove muffins from the pan and prick with a fork to let the steam escape.  Spread with butter and/or jam, and eat!
Makes one dozen.

These are delicious eaten fresh out of the oven with raspberry preserves or a drizzle of maple syrup or just a sprinkle of powdered sugar!

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