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The Old Truck: 02/17/20

The Old Truck

The Old Truck by Jarrett Pumphrey and Jerome Pumphrey is about a family farm and its old, trusty truck. Dad and Mom work together on the farm. Their daughter grows up on the farm.

The truck, probably a late 1950s or early 1960s affair is kept running until the daughter's about ten or so. Then it's left to sit by the barn as life on the farm goes on.

Flash forward a decade or so and now the daughter is running the farm with her family. She also decides it's time to fix the truck. It's older and rusty now but she's quietly determined.

The appeal for me initially was the familiarity of the truck. My father when he was younger used to restore old cars — ones much older than this book's truck. For the last decade or so, he's been a proud owner of a Studebaker truck of similar vintage.

Per an NPR interview, the book was inspired by an old farm truck Jerome Pumphrey saw in Texas on the way to visit his brother, Jarrett. They decided to let time pass around the truck as it sits inoperative. Time is shown through the seasons, through the girl aging, and through things growing up around the truck, until it's completely hidden behind brambles.

This book is more than just the story of an old truck. The retro-styled illustrations by Jerome Pumphrey show a Black family. They show the women being equals on the farm. In most of reading of farm equipment picture books, the human famers are often absent. If they are present, they're white.

Detail showing the father, son, and daughter working near the barn.

The illustrations were made from hand crafted stamps. There are more than 250 stamps, enough to give each spread a unique but stylistically tied look.

The decision to focus on the women on the farm was a way to honor the women in their lives. Women who share-cropped. Women who like the daughter, persisted.

Five stars

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