In this illustrated book for young readers, an old train who feels useless is reminded that he can still make kids happy.
At Train Station Park, a children’s amusement venue, it’s Grand Opening Day. The star of the show is a brand-new shiny red engine: “Clickety-clack, clickety-clack, who’ll ride upon my back?” he asks the waiting crowd. All the boys and girls love riding this train, and he loves his job. Over time, though, his colors fade and he starts moving more slowly and unevenly. He eventually becomes known as Tipton “because of the way he tipped back and forth along the rails.” Children still love him, but the station master decides to add a new, sparkly engine named Jack. Tipton sulks (“Clickety-clack, clickety-clack, I’m no good; I just creak and I crack”) until he gets no more riders because “they thought Tipton didn’t want to see them.” Lonelier than ever, he decides to run away through a mysterious tunnel to Old Town, a work yard for broken appliances and old machinery. A silver tea cart named Carter helps him realize that his self-pity has prevented him from noticing how much the children still love him. Tipton gets repaired and goes back to Train Station Park, where the kids greet him with happy cheers. Diamond’s debut is lighthearted and charming, but also offers believable personalities and a serious message about loving oneself. It doesn’t exactly make sense, though, that the authorities at Train Station Park wouldn’t repair Tipton themselves; Old Town is also a little shaky conceptually, as it’s both a metaphorical heavenly afterlife for machines—‘the place where dreams come true’—and a way station for repairs. Overall, though, Diamond achieves a good balance between sympathy for Tipton’s old age and encouragement for him to do what he still can: delight children. Illustrator Brayer (Where Dolphins Dive, 2015, etc.) helps tell the story with lovely, well-detailed, and emotionally expressive illustrations that feature appealing washes of watercolor.
A good message about self-acceptance, backed by charming images.