RED LIGHT, GREEN LIGHT

A toddler plays king of the world as he maneuvers his toy vehicles around the track. Not only does he report traffic, he creates it. Enhanced with a toy robot, baseballs, chess pieces, a teddy bear and pencils, the track is multilevel, varied and propped up with stacks of books and shoeboxes. Included are trucks, trains, helicopters, buses, fire engines and of course, traffic lights. All this is conveyed, in great majority, by the illustrations that offer a bird’s eye view of the workings of a child’s clever imagination. The rhyming tempo is simple and straightforward, covering several automotive modes of transportation and their trappings: “Red lights flash. / Rail cars roll. /At the booth, / pay a toll.” Simply put, this is geared toward the youngest of car-crazy kids. The artwork is lively and rendered in thick, eye-catching colors with active strokes that provide a sense of motion. Not exactly Go Car, Go, but, nonetheless, a blithe and youthful lap read. (Picture book. 2-4)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2005

ISBN: 0-15-202582-0

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Gulliver/Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2005

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A Christmas train book that gets derailed by a lacking story arc.

SANTA AND THE GOODNIGHT TRAIN

From the The Goodnight Train series

Not quite the Polar Express….

Sobel’s rhyming text fails to deliver a clear premise for the eponymous goodnight train’s Christmas Eve progress through the pages, and Huliska-Beith’s acrylic paintings embellished with fabric and paper collage don’t clarify the storytelling. At the start of the picture book, a bevy of anthropomorphic animals decorates a rather rickety-looking engine, and then human children gather around and pile into train cars that look like beds and cribs. The train follows a track, seemingly in pursuit of Santa’s sleigh, but to what end isn’t clear. They travel “through a town of gingerbread” and through the woods to find the sleigh blocking the tracks and the reindeer snoozing while, mystifyingly, Santa counts some sheep. Perching the sleigh on the train’s cowcatcher, they all proceed to the North Pole, where the “elves all cheer. / Santa’s here until next year!” But then the goodnight train just…leaves, “heading home on Christmas Eve.” Was this a dream? It definitely wasn’t a story with a satisfying beginning, middle, and end. Santa’s face is never seen; the human children and elves are diverse.

A Christmas train book that gets derailed by a lacking story arc. (Picture book. 2-4)

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-328-61840-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2019

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THE POTTY TRAIN

The latest addition to toilet-training literature takes the train analogy and rides the rails to success . . . one hopes. A toddler engineer is playing with his toy train and stuffed giraffe, lion and elephant (all diapered) when he feels a sudden urge. Opening the bathroom door leads him to the station where the Potty Train awaits with Conductor Lion beckoning him aboard. Giraffe doesn’t quite make it in time, but that’s okay—learning to ride takes a while. Sometimes there are leaks, and sometimes nothing seems to be happening at all. But the potty train keeps going, and soon, the little boy will be able to ride it all the time. As he disembarks with his stuffed friends, the toddler is surprised to see that they are all now wearing underwear. Young children will enjoy the inventiveness of Anderson’s acrylic illustrations, which incorporate everyday objects and toys into a fantasy train ride that marks the journey from diapers to “Undie Junction.” One page is potentially problematic, however, as it shows the train about to chug through a pipe tunnel. Nonetheless, train enthusiasts will toot “Chugga chugga poo-poo.” (Picture book. 2-4)

Pub Date: Jan. 8, 2008

ISBN: 978-1-4169-2833-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Simon Pulse/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2007

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