The Train of States

The Train of States

5.0 1
by Peter Sís, Peter Sis

View All Available Formats & Editions

Peter Sís is an internationally acclaimed author, artist, and filmmaker. He was born in Brno, Czechoslovakia, and graduated from the Academy of Applied Arts in Prague. He also studied at the Royal College of Art in London. His picture books for children include Play, Mozart, Play!; the Caldecott Honor Books Tibet: Through the Red Box and

…  See more details below


Peter Sís is an internationally acclaimed author, artist, and filmmaker. He was born in Brno, Czechoslovakia, and graduated from the Academy of Applied Arts in Prague. He also studied at the Royal College of Art in London. His picture books for children include Play, Mozart, Play!; the Caldecott Honor Books Tibet: Through the Red Box and Starry Messenger: Galileo Galilei; the New York Times Best Illustrated Book Tree of Life: Charles Darwin; and several popular books inspired by his own children, such as Madlenka and Fire Truck. He has also illustrated bestselling books written by Jack Prelutsky, among them Scranimals and The Dragons are Singing Tonight.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Uncle Sam conducts the patriotic engine of this line of 50 railroad cars (one per state), and Washington, D.C., brings up the rear as caboose. Czechoslovakian-born Sis combines his love for his adopted country (his home for more than two decades) with his admiration for antique circus wagons (from an introductory note). The cars appear chronologically, according to their date of statehood. Readers will pore over the unique design of each, which incorporates the state's flag, motto, nickname and the genesis of its name, as well as labeled images of the state tree, flower and bird. Underneath the cars, Sis lists the state capital, then repeats the state tree, flower and bird, adding a piece of trivia (e.g., "In Barrow, Alaska's northernmost point, the sun doesn't set for 84 days during the summer months"). Given the prescribed space allotted to each state, the duplication of some of these facts comes at the expense of additional information. But the wagons teem with interesting details (explained in an endnote); they include miniature portraits of presidents or other celebrities who hail from the state (Ben Franklin tops the Pennsylvania circus wagon), milestones (Ohio had the first professional baseball team; women could first vote in Wyoming) and relevant symbols (Mount Rushmore for South Dakota). Sis's signature fine black line limns entire vignettes while his watercolor wash adds depth and perspective. He gives both youngsters hungry for state facts and those casting about for unusual historical morsels ample reason to climb aboard this festive train. Ages 6-up. (Sept.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
It is time to celebrate the United States in this visual cornucopia of historical facts. State by state, Peter Sis provides rich details about each of the nation's states, as well as the District of Columbia. States are presented in order of their admission to statehood, and Washington, D.C. follows at the end. From Delaware on, readers learn about each state's capital, its official bird, tree, and flower. They also learn what each one was named for, the dates of statehood, and other facts. To say that Sis' illustrations are richly detailed is an understatement. Each page is a visual feast stuffed to the brim with hints of information about the history, society, and people of each area. The sources of inspiration for many of the illustrations are provided in the accompanying notes, but readers are sure to have a great time trying to decode the book's secrets on their own. The concept for the book is that this is a train of states akin to the hand-carved and hand-painted antique circus wagons of old. By the book's end, the train has rolled into town, and all the people flock to the big, American flag tent to see the performers, who are living embodiments of the states themselves. Readers will enjoy this fun approach to social studies! 2004, Greenwillow/HarperCollins, Ages 4 to 8.
—Heidi Hauser Green
School Library Journal
Gr 2-4-Using the motif of a circus train, S's has designed a different car for each state in the Union and a caboose for Washington, DC. A great deal of research went into this book as evidenced by the many tiny details in each watercolor painting. The cars are lined up chronologically according to their date of statehood and are decorated with the state flag, nickname, motto, bird, tree, and animal as well as important people or sites. Readers who have researched a state and are familiar with its history will appreciate the full-page vignettes, but for those who are not, some of the pictures without labels will have little meaning. These details are explained in a section at the back that also provides the key to the symbols that appear throughout. Students who need to research states for reports should try Benjamin F. and Barbara S. Shearer's State Names, Seals, Flags and Symbols (Greenwood, 2001). S's's engaging title, however, is a browser's ticket for a cross-country journey and a treat for trivia lovers everywhere.-Laurie Edwards, Infinity Charter School, Harrisburg, PA Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Combining the author/illustrator's stated "love for [his] adopted country with [his] admiration for antique circus wagons," this offering serves up 50 cars, one for each state, and "a most marvelous caboose" (Washington, DC). Each meticulously decorated car-ordered by each state's admission to the Union-includes such standard details as flag, state critters, and nickname, as well as various notable state residents. To make sure the most important information doesn't slip by, a panel at the bottom includes the state tree, flower, and bird (replicating the facts above), capital, and a random factoid ("North Dakota has 63 National Wildlife Refuges, more than any other state"). State-fact purists will no doubt be peeved to find that mottoes properly expressed in languages other than English are translated with no indication of such (New Mexico's Latin "Crescit Eundo" becomes "It grows as it goes"). It's certainly a very pretty caravan, S's's propensity for itty-bitty detail leading to some highly ornate wagons, but the overall impression of the whole is a big "So what?" One can't even fall back on the standard "Good for reports." (Picture book/nonfiction. 6-10)

Read More

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
10.32(w) x 11.32(h) x 0.45(d)
NC1120L (what's this?)
Age Range:
6 Years

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network


Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >

The Train of States 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Aradanryl More than 1 year ago
Delightful circus wagon format covers all 50 states plus Washington DC. Each page features a different circus train car, with tidbits of information tucked here and there. In the back is a list of small images hidden for the eagle-eyed child to find. Excellent book that invites re-reading. We loved this inviting book so much we bought multiple copies to share and give as gifts! A perfect addition to a classroom library and for curious children's personal libraries.