Children have always loved trains. It’s been nearly a century since the first official publication of The Little Engine that Could. “I think I can, I think I can,” the little train puffed and chugged as it earned a place among classic children’s stories.
That tiny book led the way for the huge success of works such as The Polar Express and Thomas the Tank Engine & Friends. In recent years Thomas has been followed down the tracks by Chuggington and Dinosaur Train.
Clearly, children still love locomotives. But bedtime? Not so much.
Kids will love how her words capture the sounds of the arriving train. With a blaring whistle and a clanging bell, the hissing, squealing train huffs and chuffs “clickety-clack” through the darkness.
At the station the train’s freight is loaded by a dreamlike animal crew. Juggling monkeys, bouncing rabbits, hopping kangaroos and giant dinosaurs quickly get to work.
Children and parents will get a laugh from some of the job assignments. A tortoise gets to drive the race cars onto the autorack; a polar bear and his arctic pals load ice cream sundaes.
The book also introduces children to the variety of train cars: boxcars, hoppers, tankers and “reefers.” When all the work is done, the “flatbed” car is just the right spot for the weary crew.
The book is skillfully illustrated in oil pastels by Tom Lichtenheld. He and Rinker also collaborated on the best-selling Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site. His dark color palette provides a soothing atmosphere for the hustle and bustle of activity at the train station.
Children still love trains. Steam Train, Dream Train may help them love bedtime too.