The Banshee Train

Overview

Odds Bodkin's story, based on folklore that Irish railroad workers brought to America, and Ted Rose's shimmering watercolors evoke the suspense and mystery of this otherworldly chase through the high Rocky Mountains. On a foggy night, spring floods swell the Colorado River. John Mercer, engineer of Train Number 1, and Mr. O'Reilly, his fireman, worry about crossing Gore Canyon where, twenty years before, the trestle washed out and an unlucky engineer drove his train over the edge. Is Gore Canyon Trestle still ...

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Overview

Odds Bodkin's story, based on folklore that Irish railroad workers brought to America, and Ted Rose's shimmering watercolors evoke the suspense and mystery of this otherworldly chase through the high Rocky Mountains. On a foggy night, spring floods swell the Colorado River. John Mercer, engineer of Train Number 1, and Mr. O'Reilly, his fireman, worry about crossing Gore Canyon where, twenty years before, the trestle washed out and an unlucky engineer drove his train over the edge. Is Gore Canyon Trestle still there? And can they-should they-try to outrun the Banshee?

In the mountains outside of Denver, a passenger train is saved from certain disaster by the ghosts from a previous wreck.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"A lively picture book set in 1929. . . . More suspenseful than scary, this title should appeal to kids who enjoy stories about trains and ghosts." School Library Journal
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
THE BANSHEE TRAIN Odds Bodkin, illus. by Ted Rose. Clarion, $5.95 ISBN 0-395-79722-5. PW said that "eeriness and danger permeate this spectral tale" of a train carrying ghostly passengers in 1929 Colorado. Ages 5-8. (Sept.)
School Library Journal
K-Gr 3-A lively picture book set in 1929. While heading through Colorado on a foggy night, the engineer and fireman of Train Number 1 notice some unusual occurrences. First, the throttle swings off all by itself. After the engine resumes speed, a mysterious locomotive appears on the tracks behind them, and they must travel at full speed to avoid a collision. Just before they reach Gore Canyon Trestle, Number 1 comes to a sudden halt. Then the men hear ``...an unearthly shriek'' and see the ghostly head of a banshee rising from the train behind them, which disappears. The men discover that Gore Canyon Trestle is completely gone; the banshee saved them from certain death. The story is well paced, leading up to its dramatic climax smoothly and surely. Railroad terms are nicely interwoven throughout, and dialogue and description move the tale along briskly. Double-page watercolors capture the motion and color of the trains and the mountainous terrain. They don't show much of the two men, but the narrative conveys their emotions and excitement. An author's note briefly explains the background of the banshee and the role of Irish immigrants in working on American railroads. More suspenseful than scary, this title should appeal to kids who enjoy stories about trains and ghosts.-Steven Engelfried, West Linn Public Library, OR
Carolyn Phelan
Running Train Number 1 west from Denver in 1929, engineer Mercer remembers tales of a wreck that occurred when the Gore Canyon Trestle washed out 100 years earlier, and he vows to check out the trestle before attempting to cross the canyon. Soon, Mercer and his fireman O'Reilly are forced to run at full speed to avoid colliding with a mysterious train behind them. Just before they reach the canyon, their train suddenly stops, and they hear the wail of "the Banshee," as the ghostly train behind Number 1 overtakes it and plunges into the cavern just beyond. Bodkin, a professional storyteller, builds suspense as the train picks up speed, and Rose contributes a series of attractive watercolor paintings of trains and landscapes stretching across the double-page spreads. Don't purchase this for preschool train fans, though. Despite the picture-book format, there's nothing particularly childlike in the approach of writer or artist. For larger collections.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780395694268
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Publication date: 4/1/1995
  • Pages: 32
  • Age range: 5 - 8 Years
  • Product dimensions: 10.35 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 0.44 (d)

Meet the Author

ODDS BODKIN is an acclaimed storyteller, composer, and teacher of the art of storytelling. He lives in New Hampshire.

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