“Everything Goes on Land” by Brian Biggs is a combination storybook, look-and-find, and counting book that is layered with subplots, how-things-work diagrams, and easy humor. Fair warning to parents: If you read it as a bedtime book, which you absolutely should, start the bedtime process early, because you and your little ones will want extra time to explore and examine each page in detail.
The basic plot is a boy and his father drive through a city to (spoiler alert!) pick up mom at a train station. Each page spread is a detailed bird’s-eye view of their journey through the city that focuses on one type of transportation: trucks, buses, bicycles, trains, etc. These spreads are interspersed with pages that simply diagram cool things, such as how a car engine works, or what’s inside a refrigerator truck.
If the book was that and only that, it would be great fun. But there are other layers of storieson top of the main one, and this is why it takes so long (and why it’s such a delight) to read. For example, on every page there’s something that doesn’t belong. Finding that thing, and discussing candidates for what may or may not belong, is endlessly entertaining for my preschoolers. (“So, you’re saying a car filled with water is normal, but a purple car is not?” or, “You’ve really seen an alien riding a bus in real life, so you don’t think that’s unusual?”).
Also on every page is a hidden bird with a hat, sometimes more than one bird with a hat, or birds who don’t have hats that want one. Subplots weave themselves throughout; on an early page, someone’s car breaks down, the next page a tow truck shows up, on a later page the car is in a mechanic’s shop, and all in between there’s theorizing about why the car won’t run. And, to top it off, the numerals 1 through 100 appear throughout.
My three girls, who range in age from two to five, absolutely love this book. We discover something new every time we read it.
HarperCollins has a VERY cool Browse Inside beta site where you can flip through the pages of the whole book.
Disclosure: I’m not paid to do this review, but I did get the book for free from a super nice person at HarperCollins.