Traction Man Is Here!
by Mini Grey
Published by Alfred A. Knopf, 2005
On his box, Traction Man is described as a “generic action figure with dazzle-painted battle pants.” This square-jawed hero is up for any challenge. Traction Man guards the toast at breakfast, volunteers for special duty in a sink full of dirty dishes (where he acquires a brave little sidekick, Scrubbing Brush), and crawls through the rugged backyard terrain to rescue of a trio of unfortunate dolls. Mini Grey’s story is firmly rooted in a young boy’s imaginative play, in which he recasts a wealth of everyday objects and incidences as the props for his beloved new toy’s adventures. After being placed in suspended animation in the InterGalactic People Mover (e.g., sleeping in the car on the way to Grandma’s house), Traction Man faces his toughest challenge yet: Grandma has made him an “all-in-one knitted green romper suit and matching bonnet!” Of course Traction Man would never hurt Grandma’s feelings. But how will his ego ever survive? Traction Man’s dilemma is summed up in one hilarious illustration showing the usually confident superhero clad in the knitted green nightmare and looking woefully worried. It’s the visual climax in a book that is never lacking for something delightful to look at. Traction Man’s story winds down to a perfect conclusion, but many readers will want to go right back to the beginning to look again. There is so much to discover, from the small moments of humor to the way Traction Man’s adventures are distinguished from what is happening in the boy’s real-world life through both the way the words appear on the page and in the style of the illustrations. (MS) ©2005 Cooperative Children’s Book Center