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Dave Shea
Crosswalk Wally
Dave Shea, author
CROSSWALK WALLY is a picture book for children ages 4 to 8 that tells the story of a crosswalk sign silhouette that gets separated from his bright yellow sign and uses other street signs, of all kinds, to guide him to where he can safely cross the street and finally return to his post. Core values: pedestrian safety, asking for help, responsibility, and perseverance.
Wally, the walking figure on a crosswalk sign, is excited for his sign’s first day at the corner of Main Street and Pine, but on his trip there, the truck carrying the sign hits a bump and Wally falls off–and into the street. Lost and unsure of how to reunite with his sign, Wally journeys through town, asking other signs along the way for guidance–but they’re all busy with their own jobs and can’t offer him much help. Paired with Pat Giles’s lively, cartoon-like illustrations, Shea’s debut picture book effectively engages younger readers in Wally’s quest while simultaneously teaching them pedestrian safety.

For a short story with a simple concept, the pacing is quick and unhurried, with a narrative well-suited to street safety education and approachable prose that launches into rhyme when appropriate. Readers will be exposed to an abundance of road signs, some of which may be familiar and others that will feel brand new: Shea includes region-specific signage for animal crossings and offers a slew of more common roadside pointers and warnings, from stop signs to bus stops to “Do Not Enter.” Giles’s lively illustrations will also give kids some opportunities to look for signs they can recognize during their own travels.

Crosswalk Wally’s effectiveness lies in its approachability for even the youngest of readers and future pedestrians. Flat, striding Wally is a fun and effective main character to teach audiences the importance of safe street crossing, a topic that doesn’t always lend itself to such imaginative treatment. And just when he is about to give up and believes he “will never get across the street,” Wally stumbles onto a sign that looks just like him–and wisely brings home the lesson about crossing streets wisely. Kids will root for Wally throughout his entertaining journey, and he will be easy to recall when they, too, are crossing streets.

Takeaway: This unique adventure teaches young kids to be good pedestrians and recognize road signs.

Great for fans of: Jane Yolen’s How Do Dinosaurs Stay Safe?, Jean E. Pendziwol’s No Dragons for Tea.

Production grades
Cover: A-
Design and typography: A
Illustrations: A
Editing: A
Marketing copy: A