A wistful little girl imagines a world beyond the gardens and grain fields of home.
A country girl waits patiently at her window each day to wave to the engineer of the train that passes nearby, traveling east in the morning and journeying west at night, wondering about this person she will never meet. Like her, does he dream of a life different from the one he has? The gift of the engineer’s hat gives the precocious child the courage to explore her safe domain and imagine a different life. Surrounded by loving parents, a baby brother, some quiet cows, and a snoozing cat, she looks beyond the borders of a bucolic world to ponder where else she could go, what else she could be. Acheson chooses rhythmic language that carries the story forward with a nearly audible clickety-clack. Soft folk-style art done in gouache, oil pastels, and colored pencils lends a homey country atmosphere to the changing seasons of a very quiet rural life. Both the little girl’s perspective and the pages’ focus change from up close to far away, from what’s real to what’s imagined, always with her family nearby. A final two-page spread provides a happy ending that, like the arrival of a train, we know is coming. All the characters present white.
Although the book’s plot is, perhaps, as predictable as the evening train, it’s entirely pleasurable. (Picture book. 6-9)