The Last Train

Overview

Based on a song by the acclaimed musician Gordon Titcomb, this is a hauntingly beautiful tribute to a bygone era when everyone traveled by train.

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Overview

Based on a song by the acclaimed musician Gordon Titcomb, this is a hauntingly beautiful tribute to a bygone era when everyone traveled by train.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
"If you close your eyes and listen,/ you can almost hear the sound/ Of those big iron horses/ rolling into town." Based on musician Titcomb's 2005 song, this stunning book both celebrates and eulogizes the golden era of railway travel. Minor's luminous, occasionally almost photographic, paintings portray the adult narrator as a boy, surrounded by a ghostly haze as he walks along the tracks. Without the upbeat strings and tempo of Titcomb's song, his words take on a wistful tone: "My Granddad was a railroad man,/ he drove the trains around,/ My Daddy, he sold tickets/ till they closed the station down." Whether young readers will respond to the elegiac quality of the verse, there's little doubt that railroad aficionados will pore over the crisply rendered railroad memorabilia--stamps, posters, photographs, a ticket punch--and the gleaming images of the locomotives themselves. Effectively evoking the sounds and rhythms of train travel, the lyrics call to mind Steve Goodman's 1970 song "City of New Orleans," recorded famously by Arlo Guthrie, who contributes a foreword to this affectionate and nostalgic tribute. Ages 3–8. (Sept.)
From the Publisher
An Autumn 2010 Kids' Indie Next List pick for "Inspired Recommendations for Kids from Indie Booksellers"

 

“Based on musician Titcomb's 2005 song, this stunning book both celebrates and eulogizes the golden era of railway travel. Minor's luminous, occasionally almost photographic, paintings portray the adult narrator as a boy, surrounded by a ghostly haze as he walks along the tracks….There's little doubt that railroad aficionados will pore over the crisply rendered railroad memorabilia.”  —Starred, Publishers Weekly

 

"[The Last Train] is going to please every last train lover out there, and I’ll be putting it in my Christmas shopping bag for more than one person this upcoming holiday season." —Betsy Bird, New York Public Library

“A treasure for train enthusiasts.” —Kirkus Reviews

“The Last Train is going to please every last train lover out there….It mixes together both drama and nostalgia, but in a good way, in the ultimate train tribute.” —Elizabeth Bird, A Fuse #8 Production blog

Children's Literature - Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
The text of The Last Train, in rhymed couplets, is based on a song by the author. In it a young boy, contemplating the old, boarded-up train station, looks back to the days when the "big iron horses" still rolled into town. His grandfather drove the trains; his dad sold the tickets. The rails are rusting since it has been thirty years since the last train. The boy recalls the famous trains of long ago, whistling through the night. What is left are the souvenirs: posters, the ticket punch, a union card, his grandfather's watch—reward for his 20 years of service. The boy remembers those who worked on board: brakeman, porters, and a fireman shoveling coal. As jets fly overhead, only the echo of the whistle remains. Accompanying the text here is an album of historical scenes associated with the years of railroads, almost photographic illustrations of the trains and the men who made them go. Minor's paintings are realistic images that stir emotions as they generate the years when trains gave us romantic dreams of travel as they dominated the landscapes. These images may be able to turn even jet-age youngsters from the electronic screens to reflect on these days of long ago. There are additional notes and lists of web sites included. Reviewer: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 3—The mystique surrounding the iron horse still tugs at the imaginations and yearnings of young and old, and folk musician Titcomb taps that magic in lyrics that comprise the text for this book. Easy-to-read rhymed couplets capture the sights and sounds of the powerful beast. The song opens at a small town's boarded-up station; a boy recalls his grandfather, who drove the train, and his father, who sold tickets. Especially meaningful is an "Old cigar box filled with memories,/my boyhood souvenirs,/The watch they gave my Daddy/when he'd put in twenty years." Minor, whose panoramic watercolors supported the solemnity of the rail journey in Robert Burleigh's Abraham Lincoln Comes Home (Henry Holt, 2008), is here able to offer playful touches in concert with the majestic. Close-ups of pennies flattened on the tracks and authentic memorabilia, such as the sleeping kitten from an advertisement for the Chesapeake and Ohio, mingle with the monumental and somewhat surreal: a frontal view of a puffing engine, through which, on closer inspection, the lights of a town can be seen. Minor's transparent touch conjures a convincing memory. With a list of railroad museum websites and train musings in an introduction by Arlo Guthrie and an endnote by the author, this book offers a loving ode to trains and avenues to pursue when the last page has been turned.—Wendy Lukehart, Washington DC Public Library
Kirkus Reviews

"Now the tracks that shone like silver, have turned to rusty brown. / Thirty years ago the last train rolled through town." Steam trains no longer whistle plaintively across America, but this rhythmic paean, based on the author's song of the same name, celebrates their memory. Lyrics that sound perfectly pleasurable when sung can come across a bit maudlin on paper: "Now the flattened copper pennies look like little metal tears / That a railroad cries before it disappears." (The illustration shows pennies, before and after, flattened on the rails.) Listening to the song beforehand markedly improves the reading of the book, especially lines such as "Ooooh... Midnight Flyer, / Hear that lonesome freight train whistle call." Minor's first, lovingly rendered, atmospheric gouache painting shows a modern-day, T-shirted boy gazing at a boarded-up railroad station in Aurora, Ill. Images of a cigar box full of train paraphernalia from two previous Titcomb generations offer more glimpses into the iron horse's glory days. A treasure for train enthusiasts, but make sure to take in the trailer on YouTube, too (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3caJkMjGLiw). (foreword by Arlo Guthrie, author's note, Web resources) (Picture book. 3-8)

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781596431645
  • Publisher: Roaring Brook Press
  • Publication date: 9/14/2010
  • Pages: 32
  • Sales rank: 645,138
  • Age range: 3 - 8 Years
  • Product dimensions: 10.54 (w) x 11.20 (h) x 0.33 (d)

Meet the Author

GORDON TITCOMB is a composer and musician who has played with many well known artists including Arlo Guthrie, Hank Williams, Jr., Paul Simon, Emmylou Harris, Judy Collins, and Willie Nelson. THE LAST TRAIN is Gordon's first book for children. Gordon lives in Winsted, CT.

WENDELL MINOR is an award-winning illustrator of over forty picture books for children, including Buzz Aldrin's LOOK TO THE STARS and AMERICA THE BEAUTIFUL. As a child he remembers visiting the Burlington Railroad roundhouse in his hometown of Aurora, IL, to watch the big steam engines come and go. Wendell now lives in Washington, CT.

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