Casey Jones's Fireman: The Story of Sim Webb

Casey Jones's Fireman: The Story of Sim Webb

by Nancy Farmer, James Bernardin
     
 

The exciting story of a famous train disaster, as told by a two-time Newbery Honor author

In the final years of the nineteenth century, the engineer of the mighty locomotive depends on the fireman to stoke the furnace that runs the engine and supplies steam to the whistle. Sim Webb is proud to be Casey Jones's fireman--because Casey is the best engineer on the

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Overview

The exciting story of a famous train disaster, as told by a two-time Newbery Honor author

In the final years of the nineteenth century, the engineer of the mighty locomotive depends on the fireman to stoke the furnace that runs the engine and supplies steam to the whistle. Sim Webb is proud to be Casey Jones's fireman--because Casey is the best engineer on the Illinois Central, and his is the biggest whistle. But one day Casey and Sim meet a sinister red-headed gentleman who offers Casey an even bigger whistle, an unearthly whistle that Sim knows should not be blown. Can Sim stop Casey from dooming not only the train, but the entire world?

The marvelous text of two-time Newbery Honor winner Nancy Farmer, and astonishingly vivid art of James Bernardin bring a thrilling part of American history and folklore to fire-breathing, steam-belching life. It's a story that will blaze across the reader's imagination and will not soon be forgotten

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
It's all aboard for adventure as Newbery Honor author Farmer (The Eye, the Ear and the Arm) produces an exciting blend of history and imagination. Here, readers see the legendary train engineer Casey Jones through the eyes of his fireman, Sim Webb. As fireman, Webb maintains the coal-burning furnace that provides Jones's engine with its steam power. One night Jones meets a shady character who offers him a golden steam whistle for his engine. Said to be made from the angel Gabriel's trumpet, the whistle will require a dangerous amount of steam to blow. When a proud Jones tries out the new whistle (against Webb's advice), he--and his engine--meet with disaster. Farmer's fully realized portrait of a little-known figure from African-American history will fascinate readers. Narrated by Webb, the account resonates with you-are-there immediacy and emotion. Bernardin (Dancing with the Wind) depicts Webb and Jones as jovial, hardworking young men, but the real stars of these dark-hued dramatic oil paintings are the trains, seen on nearly every page. Showing Jones's Cannonball racing through the inky night, Bernardin seems also to capture the sound of the whistle and the feel of the rushing wind. Children will want to proceed full steam ahead to the dramatic finale. Ages 4-8. (Sept.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Children's Literature - Children's Literature
Casey Jones is the focus of many tales and songs, but his lesser-known African-American fireman is the viewpoint character in Farmer's fictional flight of fancy. Casey Jones, "the best engineer in the country," prides himself on his speed but Sim, a man of strong intuitions, is suspicious when a mysterious red-haired stranger offers Casey a whistle more powerful than any known. He worries when Casey, bent on building up the speed needed to blow the whistle, urges Sim to "lay on more coal." Sim, who warns against the dangers of this recklessness, sees a train rushing at them, and manages to throw himself from the doomed train as Casey dies in a wreck that avoids collision and spares the lives of all aboard. The story's imagery and details revive 19th century railroad life and the afterword points up the amazing feats of a black man who makes his mark in history despite difficulties of advancement. 1999, Phyllis Fogelman, Ages 7 to 10, $15.99. Reviewer: Susie Wilde
Kirkus Reviews
What really happened on Casey Jones' legendary last run? Lured by a mysterious red-haired stranger who boasts a fabulous set of golden pipes (which comprise the train's whistle), Casey places a bet that the Cannonball can build up enough steam to make those pipes sing. Sim Webb, Casey's fireman and friend, suspects that these pipes were stolen from the angel Gabriel by the devil himself. Will their sounding trigger the end of the world? Other-worldly splashes of radiant gold highlight illustrations that picture Sim's youthful fascination with the railroad, his rise to fireman, the brilliantly lit interior of the engine, and finally the headlights of the Cannonball as it wends its fateful way through the mountains on its final journey. Children will relish this little-known piece of railroad lore, with its echoes of an epic battle being waged, and won. (Picture book. 4-8)

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780803719293
Publisher:
Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
09/28/1999
Series:
Phyllis Fogelman Bks.
Pages:
40
Product dimensions:
10.75(w) x 8.75(h) x 0.32(d)
Lexile:
390L (what's this?)
Age Range:
4 - 8 Years

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