Wednesday, September 3, 2014

CURRENT PUBLISHING TRENDS: Trains, trains, and more trains!

It's always interesting to me to see what topics seem to be popular in picture books during any given year. Sometimes these topics are a surprise (whales) and sometimes they are not.  The topic I'm looking at today isn't really a surprise, at least to those of us who work with young children.


Finding advice on caring for a dog, a cat, a fish, even a dinosaur is easy. But what if somebody’s taste in pets runs to the more mechanical kind? What about those who like cogs and gears more than feathers and fur? People who prefer the call of a train whistle to the squeal of a guinea pig? Or maybe dream of a smudge of soot on their cheek, not slobber? In this spectacularly illustrated picture book, kids who love locomotives (and what kid doesn’t?) will discover where trains live, what they like to eat, and the best train tricks around—everything it takes to lay the tracks for a long and happy friendship. All aboard!


The idea of seeing a train as a pet struck me as funny the first time I heard of this book.  After reading it I can more fully appreciate the cleverness behind the title.  The clever text with the animated, gorgeous illustrations makes for a thoroughly enjoyable book for readers of all ages.  The narrator gives advice on choosing which train to have for a pet and then how to take care of it.  But it's the illustrations that truly win the day as the reader sees trains with sparkles, trains on leashes, trains smiling, fishing, and leaving muddy tracks on the kitchen floor.  A surefire winner for all train lovers!


A night train, a freight train, a high-speed train. Racing across the country, from coast to coast. All aboard!

Climb aboard a red-striped Commuter Train in the East. Switch to a blue Passenger Train rolling through midwestern farmland. Then hop on a Freight Train, soar over mountains on an Overnight Train, and finish on a High-Speed Train as it races to the West Coast.

Trains are moving. Fast and loud, colorful and powerful. Experience their sights, sounds, smells--and the engineers and conductors who make them go--as they roll across the country.


This book takes a look at the variety of different types of trains that criss-cross the United States on a daily basis. In fact, the book travels geographically from the east coast to the west coast. I think it's that variety that I enjoyed the most.  I didn't realize there were so many different types of trains available.  It was fun to see the environments that the trains travel through including train stations, farmland, and cities. I also liked how the author/illustrator used both his imagination and real places/features to create his book.  It's also nice to know what he did. Such author notes are important to me as a teacher.  The child readers won't care, they will simply enjoy the gorgeous water color illustrations of trains, trains, and more trains.



The #1 New York Times bestselling team that brought you Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site returns with another entertaining book for bedtime.

The dream train pulls into the station.  One by one the train cars are loaded--polar bears pack the reefer car with ice cream, elephants fill the tanker cars with paints, tortoises load the autorack with race cars, kangaroos fill the hopper car with balls.  Sweet (and silly) dreams are guaranteed for every train enthusiast!


I am a big fan of Tom Lichtenheld's work as an illustrator, it's so fun and child-friendly.  And he and Rinker have created another winner here, especially for those readers who love trains!  But it isn't just the train that is fun here, I especially enjoyed the creative use of animals loading the train and what they happen to be loading. For example, the monkeys are loading bananas and a set of monkey bars. While these things aren't specifically mentioned in the text it's a funny touch that kids will love.  It's examples like this that make for a perfect picture book.  The text rhymes wonderfully and works very well for reading out-loud.

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