Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
First-time author Lewis and Kirk (Breakfast at the Liberty Diner) here embrace an enduring childhood fantasy--the playroom that comes alive at night--and pare it down for very young readers. A toy engineer and his son drive a train loaded with "freight" (actually an assortment of playthings) around a labyrinth of track laid out in a sleeping boy's bedroom. Other toys--a jack-in-the-box, a Humpty Dumpty, a trio of plush raccoons--help load and unload the cargo, or greet the train as it passes by. Lewis's brief, rhyming couplets mime a locomotive's momentum in their rhythm: " 'Round the mountains, high and steep./ Through the valleys, low and deep." The onomatopoeic refrain, set in playful typography, is familiar but infectious: "Chugga-chugga/ choo-choo/ whistle blowing/ Whoooooooo! Whooooooooo!" Kirk's dramatically shaded, panoramic paintings revel in the toys' bold shapes and colors as well as in the disparate relationships of their sizes to one another and to the environment. He gives the classic subject matter an up-to-the-minute look: his compositions have the modeled, 3D look of computer-aided art, and his surfaces a high-gloss, airbrushed smoothness. Kids will be glad to climb aboard for the ride. Ages 2-5. (May) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
It is morning and time to load the freight on the train. Follow the journey to the city, through the country, around the mountains, into the tunnels and across the bridge. When nighttime arrives, the boxcars are emptied and it's time for sleep. The peppy, rhythmic text bounces along with just the right number of train whistle sounds. The action takes place in a child's bedroom and reinforces imaginative play. Children may recognize some of their favorite toysbuilding blocks, a train and a long winding track, stuffed animals and doll people, all in Kirk's bright, bold illustrations. The shadings of the pages darken slightly as night approaches and the text winds down with a soft whistle sound at the end. Fun to read any time of the day, this is also an appropriate bedtime story, with the child pictured snug in bed, his train engine at the end. The board book format is perfect for this book. Toddlers will enjoy the simple text, bright colors and sound of the whistle. Parents and children will discover lots to point out and talk about on each page. 2001, Hyperion Books for Children, $6.99. Ages 1 to 4. Reviewer: Sharon Salluzzo
Children's Literature - Carol Raker Collins
As engineers board the train, workmen load the cargo--it is the start of the workday for a steam engine that carries freight from the country to the city. Then the train travels a long way around mountains, through valleys, into tunnels, over rivers, on top of bridges, to its destination. There, station workmen unload the freight. The tired black engine, leaving behind the cars and the red caboose, goes to the roundhouse to sleep after a hard day's work. The rhymed verse captures the excitement of the engine's day with its "wheels a-turning" as it calls "whoo whoo." In counterpoint to the real workday of the steam engine, the illustrator pictures everything in a toyland setting. The train, the workmen, engineers, landscape, city, and cargo are all depicted as toys in an elaborate colorful playroom. At the end of this make-believe tale, the train is tucked in for the night in the arms of the little boy whose bed is in the middle of the train tracks. Children will find this playroom and story quite inviting.
School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 1 Bold, bright colors and a catchy rhyming text, not to mention the irresistible subject matter, will make this title an instant hit with young children. From morning to night, a train makes its journey: whistle blowing, "wheels a-turning," loading and unloading its freight. Illustrations reveal a toy train traveling through a child's room, past a teddy bear, a jack-in-the-box, and a cowboy on his horse. The artwork is quite clever; as the train goes "Into tunnels, underground," it travels under the bed, and "Across the river," crossing a bridge over an aquarium. The large typeface suits the simple text, and the repetitive refrain of "whoooooooo! whoooooooo!" curves across the pictures. Perfect for reading aloud, the story also works as a bedtime selection, ending with, "To the roundhouse/you are bound./Good night, engine,/safe and sound." Children who love Donald Crews's Freight Train (Greenwillow, 1978) will find another favorite in Chugga-Chugga Choo-Choo. Robin L. Gibson, Muskingum County Library System, Zanesville, OH Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Read an Excerpt
Sun's up! Morning's here. Up and at 'em, engineer. Chugga-Chugga Choo-Choo Whistle blowing Whooooooooo! Whoooooooo!
Author Biography: Chugga-Chugga Choo-Choo is Kevin Lewis's first picture book. His newest book is The Lot at the End of My Block. Kevin is a children's book editor and lives in Greenwich Village, New York.