About a month ago, the happy man and his dump truck came into our lives.
More accurately: The Happy Man and His Dump Truck came into our lives.
My mom bought this “Little Golden Book Classic” for Zoe because Zoe loves animals and vehicles (happy men, she can go either way), and this book has both.
Once upon a time there was a man who had a dump truck. Every time he saw a friend, he would wave his hand and tip the dumper.
So our tale begins. Next, the happy man gives a pig a ride. When they get to the farm where the pig’s friends live (he is a traveling pig, apparently), the happy man gives the pig and his friends a ride. He tips the dumper, and they love it. He then opens the tailgate and tips the dumper, providing a “fine sliding board” for all the animals when they’re back at the farm. Everyone thanks the happy man, who rides off in his dump truck, singing a happy song.
I find this book fascinating, because it has absolutely no conflict and very little action. Just a big scruffy guy driving farm animals around in a dump truck, and a heartwarming moment, as they pass the startled farmer, when the happy man declares, “They are all my friends,” waves his hand, and tips the dumper. (Pro Tip: That’s what friends do.)
When I read some of the Amazon reviews for The Happy Man and His Dump Truck (Pro Tip: There are some beauties out there), I thought I had found a kindred spirit. Here he is:
The artwork is nice but the story is rather pointless.
It is sort of pointless, I thought. I mean, shouldn’t something actually . . . happen?
But, no. The reviewer was looking for a theme or lesson or message to give his children along with the book. Something like heroism, or courage, or teamwork, or musical instrument recognition.
Now, these are all perfectly good messages. I want my kid to get all of that stuff, for sure. But I think that this pointless little book does have some underlying messages. So, here’s what I learned from the happy man (and his dump truck):
1. Dump trucks make everyone happy, be they men or farm animals.
2. Somewhere in the world, chickens say “cucka cucka.”
3. If you see a pig going along the road, for heaven’s sake: give him a ride in your dump truck.
What’s the most (or least) helpful thing you’ve learned from a book?