Crossing

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Overview

Vivid images in both poem and paintings create a close-up view of a freight train traveling through a crossing—a dramatic experience for young readers.

With the rhythm of its words recalling the cadence of a moving freight train, a poem by Philip Booth is fluidly joined with artwork by first-time illustrator Bagram Ibatoulline in this majestic picture book. Ibatoulline's dramatic and masterful paintings capture the American freight train in ...

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Overview

Vivid images in both poem and paintings create a close-up view of a freight train traveling through a crossing—a dramatic experience for young readers.

With the rhythm of its words recalling the cadence of a moving freight train, a poem by Philip Booth is fluidly joined with artwork by first-time illustrator Bagram Ibatoulline in this majestic picture book. Ibatoulline's dramatic and masterful paintings capture the American freight train in its heyday in astonishing detail. CROSSING promises to enthrall train enthusiasts of all ages.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
"This pairing of Booth's nearly 50-year-old poem with the exceedingly lifelike gouache paintings of a first-time illustrator is right on track," PW wrote in a starred review. "This slice of Americana is sure to chug full steam ahead into the hearts of train enthusiasts young and old." Ages 5-9. (Sept.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Publishers Weekly
This pairing of Booth's nearly 50-year-old poem (originally published in Letter from a Distant Land) with the exceedingly lifelike gouache paintings of first-time illustrator Ibatoulline is right on track. The artist in style and treatment resembles a Norman Rockwell, but his more painterly approach exudes emotion. He firmly places readers at a rural rail crossing (based on a real one in Brunswick, Maine) as a freight train barrels past. Booth's lyric verse ably suggests the rhythm of the moving boxcars: "Warning whistle, bellclang,/ engine eating steam,/ engineer waving,/ a fast-freight dream." Italicized numbers interspersed throughout the poem keep track intermittently of the trains 100 cars: "fifty-nine, sixty,/ hoppers of coke,/ Anaconda copper,/ hotbox smoke." As Booth introduces a veritable railroad lexicon, Russian-born Ibatoulline treats readers to 16 different angles of the same crossing and creates a sense of the mid-20th-century community through which the train briefly passes. The opening spread presents a bird's-eye view of the railroad junction with only smoke preceding the train in the distance. A few pages later, the artist shows the iron behemoth from a child's vantage, as a boy waves up to the cheery conductor. One entire painting is the reflection of two boxcars in a waiting car's windshield. A group of friends, separated by the train and seen waving through its couplings, unite after the train departs. This slice of Americana is sure to chug full steam ahead into the hearts of train enthusiasts young and old. Ages 5-9. (Oct.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Children's Literature
Booth's original poem from 1953 rumbles with the rhythm of the passing freight train as it goes by the crossing gate. The different kinds of cars with different names bring a taste of faraway places to the town as the count goes on, ending, as it always did, with the caboose and the raising of the gate. Ibatoulline's almost photographic realism fills the large double pages with romantic, painted portraits of boxcars, cattle cars with curious cattle, all parading before our eyes. The kids playing nearby and the adults hanging around waiting on this hot summer day all add a sense of emotional nostalgia to the simple but striking visual narrative. There is no paper jacket, only a thin paper band, like the red and white striped crossing gate, covering the old steam engine on the cover and displaying the title and usual jacket information. 2001 (orig. 1953, 1981), Candlewick Press, $16.99. Ages 4 to 8. Reviewer: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 4-Breathtakingly vivid gouache illustrations reminiscent of Norman Rockwell's work will draw children into this nostalgic poem about freight trains. "STOP LOOK LISTEN" is boldly printed across the first spread, a landscape of trees and grass with a close-up view of a railroad crossing. The eye follows the track to reveal thick billows of steam and smoke just beyond a curve in the background. Anticipation builds as, on the next spread, an old-fashioned, black steam engine appears. Readers will be amazed by its beauty when it pulls into the station. The gate comes down, the whistle blows, the bell clangs, and the engineer waves. The large-print text runs along the bottom of the page. The freight cars are named, and where they originated, as they roll by, "B&M boxcar,/-Frisco gondola,/-Erie and Wabash-." Children look at cars filled with coal, period automobiles, and cattle that seem real enough to touch. Then, as the engine puffs out smoke, the 100 cars circle toward a distant tunnel. The caboose passes, and everyday life resumes. This book captures a magnificent piece of American industrial and small-town history. It is excellent for reading independently or teamed with Donald Crews's Freight Train (Greenwillow, 1978) for a winning program.- Wanda Meyers-Hines, Ridgecrest Elementary School, Huntsville, AL Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
The locomotive sounds its old siren song in this pairing of a poem from Booth's first book and spectacularly realistic art from Russia-born Ibatoulline. As the poet tallies passing freight cars-"B&M boxcar, / boxcar again, / Frisco gondola, / eight-nine-ten…"-an old-time, small town gathering of children and motorists gather at the crossing to watch, wait, and wave at last as the red caboose rumbles by. Ibatoulline skillfully captures a sense of the rolling stock's hugeness, depicts rust and machinery with magnificent precision, gives his human cast a cheery, Norman Rockwell-style wholesomeness, and backs off in one spread to show all 100 cars (count them) spiraling into a tunnel. He is not so able at capturing a feeling of motion, however, so the train looks like it's standing still, and since he has chosen to view the cars closeup, the entire shape of each is seldom discernible. All who have succumbed to the allure of the railroad will be stopped in their own tracks by this eye-filling, show-stopping debut showcase, but younger trainiacs may still prefer to hop aboard Donald Crews's Freight Train (1978). (Picture book/poetry. 6-8)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780763614201
  • Publisher: Candlewick Press
  • Publication date: 10/28/2001
  • Edition description: 1ST
  • Pages: 40
  • Age range: 5 - 9 Years
  • Product dimensions: 10.00 (w) x 11.63 (h) x 0.37 (d)

Meet the Author

Philip Booth is a Fellow of the Academy of American Poets and has been honored by Guggenheim, Rockefeller, and National Endowment for the Arts fellowships. The poem "Crossing" appeared in his first book, Letter from a Distant Land. Of his inspiration for the poem, he says, "I grew up in White River Junction, Vermont, where the White River and the Connecticut River come together. Many, many trains come down the river valley, traveling from Montreal to Boston, on to New Haven and beyond. The real crossing of this poem, though, is in Brunswick, Maine."

Bagram Ibatoulline (pronounced E'bat'too LEEN) was born in Russia and graduated from the State Academic Institute of Arts in Moscow. He has worked in fine arts, graphic arts, mural design, and textile design. CROSSING is Bagram Ibatoulline's first picture book.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 3 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 16, 2007

    A tool to bring the old and young together

    This beautifully illustrated book, drawn to a lovely poem holds the potential of opening dialogue between the generations. The younger generation concentrates on the pictures, to learn what the function is of each car, crossing, or signal. The older generation is looking at memories. Reading this book together is a natural collision of the eagerness to learn with the memories of the learned. The questions will be asked and it is up to the experienced adult to answer with their learned knowledge, memories, and heart.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 9, 2003

    Hald Good, Half Bad

    Certainly the illustrations are beautiful, but I find this book more appealing to adults than youngsters. The text, a slow and rhythmic poem, is too slow and the book lacks plot and direction. Without the illustrations it would not be of remote interest to children. Ibatoulline's illustrations are interesting, and masterfully done in gouache and present unique angles but still are slow after a while because there's only so much he can do with undynamic text, which I've witnessed children abandon before the end of the book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 28, 2001

    Amazing

    Beautiful book.

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