"Dig, dig, dig. Lift, turn, tip.
I am . . .a backhoe."
In spare text and vibrant illustrations, a little boy pretends to be a bulldozer, a crane, a dump truck, and a roller. And finally, he parks on the couch with his father for a quiet moment.
I dig my hand
into the sand,
my scooper hand.
Dig. Dig. Dig.
Lift, turn, tip.
I am . . .a backhoe.
Excerpted from I Am a Backhoe by Anna Grossnickle Hines. Copyright © 2010 by Anna Grossnickle Hines. Excerpted by permission of Tricycle Press, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
About Anna Grossnickle Hines
All the time she was growing up, first in rural Ohio then, after she turned 11, in Los Angeles, California, Anna Grossnickle Hines read and drew. Sometimes she wrote, but she was shy about that and usually tore it up. Her parents and teachers encouraged her, but none of them could tell her much about how to go about "making books".
In college Anna's teachers told he she had too much talent to waste on children's books. They said "only Picasso gets away with drawing children," and she should "go have a baby, get it out of [her] system" and come back when she was ready to do "real art." So at the end of her third year, having taken all the basic art courses, a class in Children's Literature and another in Child Care and Management, she left school to study on her own. She checked out stacks of books from the library and read them to the preschoolers in the day care center where she worked. She read books about writing and illustrating books for children and she experimented with printing techniques. She also started writing... poetry first, then a few picture books that she timidly shared with friends who encouraged her to keep it up.
Over the next decade, Anna continued her writing and drawing and collected over one hundred encouraging rejection letters from various publishing companies...eighteen of them from Susan Hirschman at Greenwillow. Then on Friday, November 13, 1981, instead of sending a nice rejection letter, Ms. Hirschman called to say, "We'd like to publish Taste the Raindrops." A year later she sold Come to the Meadow to Clarion, and Maybe a Band-Aid Will Help to Dutton. Anna is fascinated by children, by how they think, what they accomplish on a daily basis, how they learn about their bodies, their language, the world around them, relationships with others...how they sort it all out and make sense of it. What is commonplace to adults is new and engaging to children and Anna enjoys putting herself in that mode. Every once in a while, she has the additional reward of hearing from a child, or parent of a child, for whom one of her books has meant something special. Then she's really glad she didn't listen to her college teachers.
1. If you had a superpower, what would it be?
To grant wishes…the good kind of wishes that would help people be the best people they can be.
2. What was your favorite food when you were little?
Tomatoes, eaten in the garden, right off the vine. One day my grandmother took a loaf of fresh bread out of the oven and we ate it, with tomatoes and other things from the garden, while it was still too hot to slice by breaking off chunks.
3. What was your favorite book when you were a child?
My first favorite was apparently an ABC. I asked to have it read so many times that, when it disappeared for a while, my mother accused my father of hiding it. We had lots of Little Golden Books, and I particularly remember reading Heidi. I loved the art of Fyodor Rojankafski and Eloise Wilkins.
4. If you were an animal, what would you be and why?
A bird, a small one with pretty feathers and a nice song. I think it would be wonderful to fly and sing.
5. What is your favorite thing about being an author/illustrator?
Writing and illustrating! It's the process of creating a story, finding just the right words, and then making the pictures that I enjoy. Both have their frustrating moments, but when the words come together just right, or I get just the right expression on a child's face, it feels wonderful.
Starred Review, Kirkus, January 15, 2010: "The digital artwork has a soft look and feel and features vibrant colors for both the clearly outlined objects and the blank backgrounds. Spare text with a simple vocabulary makes this an excellent choice for both toddlers and those who are just beginning to read. The author has turned an ordinary (and overdone) topic into something extraordinary."
Review, School Library Journal: "This is a worthy choice for preschoolers and kindergarteners with a big appetite for truck books."
Review, Readertotz.com: "Truly a feast ... If you have a truck lover, or a tot with eyes drawn to construction, be sure to share I Am a Backhoe!"
FINALIST Bank Street Child Study Children's Book Award
WINNER Cooperative Children's Book Center Choices