Posted in picture books, Preschool Reads, Toddler

Construction fun with Builders & Breakers

Builders & Breakers, by Steve Light, (Oct. 2018, Candlewick), $16.99, ISBN: 9780763698720

Ages 2-6

Dad’s off to work at the construction site, but – oh no! – he’s forgotten his lunch! Two siblings take the lunchbox and run to meet their father at work, setting the stage for this vibrant story about construction sites and all the activity they embody.

Sparsely worded, this is a great book for toddler storytimes, proving that board books aren’t the only choice when reading to little ones. Each scene is boldly outlined and inked, popping off the plain white page, to create a cityscape where cranes hoist, wheelbarrows carry, and children search.

Because this is a Steve Light book, the beauty is in the small details. The endpapers are blueprints for the building Dad must be working on; the story starts on the title page, where Dad kisses Mom goodbye as his lunchbox sits on the floor. Mom discovers the lunchbox on the verso page, and sends the kids after dad right under the dedication. There’s no wasted space here; there’s storytelling to be found everywhere.

City kids will recognize the omnipresent green wall and “post no bills” stenciling that runs across one spread. The kids search for their dad in the background on subsequent spreads, always giving the reader something to look for. Sound effects invite readers to rat-a-tat-tat-tat along with jackhammers and spark! spark! spark! with welders, and two spreads flip the book lengthwise to show readers a different perspective. A digger reveals treasures on the sides of the dig, including several fossilized dinosaurs, a bike, and a car. When the kids reunite with their father, it’s snack time! Steve Light talks about his architectural influences in an author’s note at the end.

Display and booktalk with Steve Light’s own Diggers Go!, Sherri Duskey Rinker’s Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site, and its companions; Byron Barton’s Machines at Work is a nice companion for toddler storytimes about vehicles and construction, and I can’t get enough of Christy Hale’s Building Up. Get out your toy trucks and blocks for some play time after your construction storytime!

Educators and caregivers interested in a Steve Light author study can check out Steve Light’s author website, where he has a free downloadable author study guide available.



I'm a mom, a children's librarian, bibliophile, and obsessive knitter. I'm a pop culture junkie and a proud nerd, and favorite reads usually fall into Sci-Fi/Fantasy. I review comics and graphic novels at WhatchaReading ( I'm also the co-founder of On Wednesdays We Wear Capes (, where I discuss pop culture and geek fandom from a female point of view.

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