I've Been Working on the Railroad

Overview

When a little boy arrives early in the morn at the train station, he gets a special treat. Today he's riding up front with the conductor! The train winds its way through the big city and suburbs, around mountains and across deserts until, with screeching wheels and a puff of steam, it comes to rest outside Dinah's Cafe. And just who is in the kitchen with Dinah?

An illustrated presentation of the familiar folk song about railroad ...

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Overview

When a little boy arrives early in the morn at the train station, he gets a special treat. Today he's riding up front with the conductor! The train winds its way through the big city and suburbs, around mountains and across deserts until, with screeching wheels and a puff of steam, it comes to rest outside Dinah's Cafe. And just who is in the kitchen with Dinah?

An illustrated presentation of the familiar folk song about railroad life.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Matched with perky illustrations, the spirited, on-the-job lyrics to this ever-popular American folk song serve as narrative to a lighthearted, contemporary train journey that pays homage to traditional railroad imagery. A singing trio-banjo and harmonica players and a guitarist-climb on board, setting the musical atmosphere. Driven by a cheerful, waving engineer, a boy and his dog, the train chugs its way through idyllic, pastel-colored suburbs, a billboarded desert and hilly, rural expanses. The line "Can't you hear the whistle blowing?" is humorously aimed at a herd of wary-looking cows grazing on and around the tracks, while the legendary horn-blowing Dinah is proprietress of a whistle-stop caf (painted an eye-catching pink, it's visible from a distance). The musical trio joins her in the kitchen for a rousing, customer-participation song and dance finale. Complete lyrics and musical score are included in the back, along with brief mention of the song's late-19th-century provenance. A worthy interpretation. Ages 4-8. (Apr.)
Children's Literature - Catherine Campbell Wright
Anyone who is a fan of this classic folk song will love Westcott's illustrated adaptation. A little boy and his dog arrive at the train station just in time to be invited to ride up front all day with the conductor. The train weaves through the city, past the suburbs, along the coast, over the mountains, and finally ends up at...where else, but Dinah's Cafe? With a golden horn tucked in her apron, Dinah entertains all the patrons with her singing and her delicious breakfast. Of course, there's still someone back in the kitchen with their banjo! This book is a true delight for all ages. The song with words, music and guitar chords is included on the last page.
Children's Literature - Jan Lieberman
Familiar songs allow children to "read" with success because they know the words. The illustrations depict a little boy who has the time of his life riding up front with the conductor of the train in a madcap trip that culminated at Dinah's Café. The entire crew dance, sing, and strum their banjos while we sing along. One line of the lyrics appears on each page so that all can read in unison. A rousing rendition.
School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 2In the rollicking tradition of The Lady with the Alligator Purse (1990) and Skip to My Lou (1992, both Little), Westcott presents a whimsical rendition of an American classic. In this version, the train starts in a contemporary skyscraper-filled city and travels out to a Western landscape featuring cactus, cattle, and Dinah's Cafe. There, a band of musicians descends from the train, serenades the proprietor and re-boards with a basket of her best pastries. Cockeyed perspectives and bright pastel colors add to the rhythmic qualities of the song. A brief note on this song's origins, as well as the music and lyrics, are appended.Barbara Chatton, College of Education, University of Wyoming, Laramie
Carolyn Phelan
Buoyant is the word for this picture-book version of the familiar folk song. The lyrics form the text, while the illustrations offer a mild storyline, in which a boy and his dog ride up front with the engineer as the train pulls out of a city station, travels through the countryside, and stops for a visit at Dinah's Cafe. But it's not the plot that makes this book sing; it's the ebullient spirit of the illustrations. Before the train even gets out of town, the harmonica-and banjo-playing trainmen are floating out in the margins. By the end, Dinah's fried eggs and bacon are flying through the air, and oddly enough, it all seems to make sense--at least, the way dreams make sense. Westcott's naive ink drawings, washed with watercolors in progressively vibrant hues, create a mood that makes this book almost impossible to just read: it really must be "sung". The music (with simple guitar chords) and a short note on the song's history are appended.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780786800537
  • Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
  • Publication date: 4/11/1996
  • Edition description: 1st ed
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 32
  • Age range: 5 - 8 Years

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