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Two Little Trains

Two Little Trains

4.8 6
by Margaret Wise Brown

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Puff, Puff, Puff

Chug, Chug, Chug

Two little trains are heading West. One is a shiny, streamlined train, moving fast. The other is a little old train, moving not so fast. Both will travel through long dark tunnels, through snow and dust. What else can they have in common? Much more than you think!


Puff, Puff, Puff

Chug, Chug, Chug

Two little trains are heading West. One is a shiny, streamlined train, moving fast. The other is a little old train, moving not so fast. Both will travel through long dark tunnels, through snow and dust. What else can they have in common? Much more than you think!

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
"Each spread chronicles the parallel journeys of the titular trains. On the left, a streamlined train stretches against expansive vistas, while, on the right, a toy wooden locomotive travels on familiar domestic turf, locations wittily chosen to mimic the path of its mammoth modern counterpart," said PW in a Best Books citation. Ages 3-6. (Oct.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Margaret Wise Brown's rhythmic, imaginative words for young children, originally interpreted by Jean Charlot in 1949, are rendered anew by Leo and Diane Dillon. Half a century ago, Charlot used pen and ink drawings and four colors, in a color separation technique available at the time. Now, the Dillons use full color paintings in a widened format to take those two little trains to the West. "One little train was a streamlined train,/ Puff, Puff, Puff to the West./One little train was a little old train,/ Chug, Chug, Chug going West." In this 21st century version, the "streamlined train" is a sleek gray passenger train, traveling across the countryside on the left-hand side of the double-page spread. The "little old train" is a three-car toy train in red, blue, black, yellow, and violet, traveling on the right-hand side through the countryside of a child's house and room. Elements within the child's house reflect corresponding aspects of the scenes through which the streamlined train travels. As the book begins, the gray train is at the station, indicated by the track and station posts, with the city in the background. The toy train travels past looming chair legs as it begins its journey across a wooden floor. The streamlined train puffs past a receding city and skyline, which become a reclining teddy bear for the chugging toy train. The streamlined train looks down the long steel track, and the toy train makes its way down the fringe of a flowered rug that repeats the tracks and flowers on the left hand page. When the two little trains come to a hill and go through, the hill on the left becomes an opened book forming a tunnel for the little old train. This transformation of elements,from the scenes in the countryside to the scenes in the child's home, become, of course, both a demonstration and a study of imaginative play. Young children will "read" the pictures and make discoveries within the worlds the Dillon's paintings create, extending their enjoyment of Margaret Wise Brown's engaging and enduring text. 2001, HarperCollins, $15.95. Ages 3 to 6. Reviewer: Kathie Krieger Cerra SOURCE: The Five Owls, September/October 2001 (Vol. 16, No. 1)
Children's Literature
In this very brief, very simple tale printed in large type, "two little trains," one streamlined, one little and old, puff and chug along "that long steel track to the West." The hills, the rivers, the rain, the mountains they traverse on their way to the ocean are depicted on either side of the double pages as two very different adventures. The text moves across the pages on thin white strips below the pictures, scenes the Dillons have cleverly conjured up to give heft to the words. On the left is a streamlined silver train moving through stylized landscapes, while on the right a tiny wooden toy train is having its own adventures. But these are metaphoric, for its tunnel is an open book, its rain the bathtub shower, its desert dust spilled salt, and so forth. The two tales come together on the jacket/cover, where the real train sits in a station next to suitcases topped with the toy train. The two "tracks" should engage young listeners visually as well as verbally. 2001 (orig. 1949), HarperCollins, $15.95. Ages 3 to 6. Reviewer: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
School Library Journal
PreS-K-Two trains are going west, through tunnels, over rivers, in rain and snow, over mountains until they reach the end of their journey. Brown's poem does not always scan easily, but for the most part, it reflects the rhythm of the moving vehicles. The Dillons have created two very different trains: on the left, a real one travels through the countryside; on the right, a toy travels through a house. The illustrations are rich in color and deceptively simple. Design elements such as round purple trees on the real train side carry over to the toy train side as a bowl of plums. Toddlers will enjoy listening to the poem and finding the trains. Preschoolers will look for more parallels.-Ann Cook, formerly at Winter Park Public Library, FL Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Child Magazine
A Child Magazine Best Book of 2001 Pick

Back in print with a fresh new look, Brown's tale of a "streamlined train" and a "little old train" is given an inventive twist by the Dillons. Here, they envision parallel journeys, one real and one fanciful. The sleek and striking new artwork invites all aboard for a journey of the imagination.

Kirkus Reviews
Brown's adorable bouncing rhyme about trains has been inventively re-imagined by two award-winning illustrators. A silver "streamlined train" puffs off to the West, while a tiny toy train is its echo and shadow in a comfortable, warmly kid-inhabited home. When the silver train goes through the hill, the toy train chugs through a tunnel made of a book called Hills; the toy train climbs the mountain of the stair banister as the silver train climbs the mountains "beyond the plain"; and the silver train's track is echoed in the fringe of a rug for the toy. The Dillons illustrate both the charming domestic interiors and the sweep of landscape with elegant geometric forms, colors of great depth and richness, and their magical touch: the man in the moon is the "black man singing in the West." The relationship between the two trains is also illuminated on the cover, where, next to the silver train sits a set of luggage with a beribboned gift whose box is stamped with the image of the toy train. That box is unwrapped on the title and half-title pages. Often tending toward the lush and extravagant, here the artists have chosen exactly the right expression of pure and simple art to accompany the equally uncomplicated rhyme. Sure to delight yet another generation of children. (Picture book. 3-7)

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Edition description:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
11.00(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.09(d)
Age Range:
3 - 5 Years

Meet the Author

Margaret Wise Brown, cherished for her unique ability to convey a child’s experience and perspective of the world, transformed the landscape of children’s literature with such beloved classics as Goodnight Moon and The Runaway Bunny. Other perennial favorites by Ms. Brown include Nibble Nibble, My World, Where Have You Been?, Christmas in the Barn, The Dead Bird, and Sneakers, the Seaside Cat.

Two-time Caldecott-winning illustrators Leo and Diane Dillon have illustrated over 25 books for children, and have received many honors, including two Coretta Scott King Awards and the Society of Illustrators Gold Medal. They live in Brooklyn, NY.

Brief Biography

Date of Birth:
May 23, 1910
Date of Death:
November 13, 1952
Place of Birth:
Brooklyn, N.Y.
Place of Death:
Nice, France
B.A., Hollins College, 1932; Bank Street College of Education

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Two Little Trains 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
With the old-fashioned illustrations, this story took me back to my childhood. Love anything written by Margaret Wise Brown and illustrated by the Dillon couple. Quality children's literature.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a darling book that I have read to my older children when they were young, until the library lost the copy. I am so glad that it is back in print! I'm looking forward to reading it to my younger children. My favorite part is when the children hear 'the black man singing in the west' because my husband (their father) is black. It's such a fun book to read because of the sing-song type of rhythem and rhyme.