We have two young boys, so trains have been a major theme of our home for quite some time. The three-year-old grows more fascinated with them daily, his interest waxing conveniently apace with his older brother’s moving on to other things, like the new Wii that Santa brought this year. (This has all worked out particularly well in regard to all the Thomas paraphernalia we bought for Dash when he was this age. Something is working out according to plan, for once!)
And while it’s merely days old, 2012 has already been a banner year for train books. Griff has two new bedside standbys, both actually the latest in larger, um, vehicular series. The first is the board book Trains Go, by Steve Light, whose vivid illustrations and suitably onomatopoeic text lead us through various train types—freight, old steam, new steam, diesel, the beloved caboose. Trains Go stands out among the many train-related board books on the market, and it instantly became a favorite.
Griff has been asking for it in combination, of late, with Kate and Jim McMullan’s I’m Fast!, the latest in their oeuvre that began with the garbage-truck saga I Stink! (another of Griff’s faves, incidentally, especially in its Scholastic video version). This one recounts a race to Chicago between a freight train and a red sports car, both personified in the usual brightly aggressive McMullan manner.
Jim McMullan’s illustrations just leap off the page—before I ever saw these books, I knew him best for his series of now-classic Lincoln Center Theater posters—and his talent for still images that shimmer with motion is in evidence here. And the tone of Kate McMullan’s text, which combines the usual train sounds (why would any children’s author resist them?) with short, snappy lines of train monologue that quickly establish the train’s confident but benign character. I’m pretty sure Griff identifies with it. (Should that alarm me?)
Cover images courtesy of Chronicle Books (Trains Go) and HarperCollins (I’m Fast!)
From You Know, For Kids