Booth's original poem from 1953 rumbles with the rhythm of the passing freight train as it goes by the crossing gate. The different kinds of cars with different names bring a taste of faraway places to the town as the count goes on, ending, as it always did, with the caboose and the raising of the gate. Ibatoulline's almost photographic realism fills the large double pages with romantic, painted portraits of boxcars, cattle cars with curious cattle, all parading before our eyes. The kids playing nearby and the adults hanging around waiting on this hot summer day all add a sense of emotional nostalgia to the simple but striking visual narrative. There is no paper jacket, only a thin paper band, like the red and white striped crossing gate, covering the old steam engine on the cover and displaying the title and usual jacket information. 2001 (orig. 1953, 1981), Candlewick Press, $16.99. Ages 4 to 8. Reviewer: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
PreS-Gr 4-Breathtakingly vivid gouache illustrations reminiscent of Norman Rockwell's work will draw children into this nostalgic poem about freight trains. "STOP LOOK LISTEN" is boldly printed across the first spread, a landscape of trees and grass with a close-up view of a railroad crossing. The eye follows the track to reveal thick billows of steam and smoke just beyond a curve in the background. Anticipation builds as, on the next spread, an old-fashioned, black steam engine appears. Readers will be amazed by its beauty when it pulls into the station. The gate comes down, the whistle blows, the bell clangs, and the engineer waves. The large-print text runs along the bottom of the page. The freight cars are named, and where they originated, as they roll by, "B&M boxcar,/-Frisco gondola,/-Erie and Wabash-." Children look at cars filled with coal, period automobiles, and cattle that seem real enough to touch. Then, as the engine puffs out smoke, the 100 cars circle toward a distant tunnel. The caboose passes, and everyday life resumes. This book captures a magnificent piece of American industrial and small-town history. It is excellent for reading independently or teamed with Donald Crews's Freight Train (Greenwillow, 1978) for a winning program.- Wanda Meyers-Hines, Ridgecrest Elementary School, Huntsville, AL Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
The locomotive sounds its old siren song in this pairing of a poem from Booth's first book and spectacularly realistic art from Russia-born Ibatoulline. As the poet tallies passing freight cars-"B&M boxcar, / boxcar again, / Frisco gondola, / eight-nine-ten…"-an old-time, small town gathering of children and motorists gather at the crossing to watch, wait, and wave at last as the red caboose rumbles by. Ibatoulline skillfully captures a sense of the rolling stock's hugeness, depicts rust and machinery with magnificent precision, gives his human cast a cheery, Norman Rockwell-style wholesomeness, and backs off in one spread to show all 100 cars (count them) spiraling into a tunnel. He is not so able at capturing a feeling of motion, however, so the train looks like it's standing still, and since he has chosen to view the cars closeup, the entire shape of each is seldom discernible. All who have succumbed to the allure of the railroad will be stopped in their own tracks by this eye-filling, show-stopping debut showcase, but younger trainiacs may still prefer to hop aboard Donald Crews's Freight Train (1978). (Picture book/poetry. 6-8)