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Children's LiteratureAccording to this very personal look at the steam engine, Zimmerman began his love of the machines at a young age. His parents allowed him, at 13, to travel with a friend from New York City's Penn Station to Roanoke, Virginia, where he spent a wonderful few days before steam engines were taken from circulation. This sets the stage for an overview of the development of steam power, the arrival and use of steam locomotives in America in the 1830s, and the curious naming of engines. While common steam locomotives had numeric names, 4-6-2, for instance, they also had common names that bespoke their destinations, size or functions. Train lovers will appreciate a chapter entitled "The Care and Feeding of the Iron Horses," as well as the pristine, mostly full color, photographs whose clarity suggest careful photo selection and editing. There is a glossary, index, author's note with websites for some dozen places around the country where you can see and ride steam locomotives. There is also a cutaway diagram of a locomotive with names of the working parts to assist train lovers as well as report writers in appreciating this bit of American history. 2004, Boyds Mills Press, Ages 10 to 14.
—Susan Hepler, Ph.D.