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I DREAM OF TRAINS by Angela Johnson Kirkus Star


by Angela Johnson & illustrated by Loren Long

Age Range: 7 - 9

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 2003
ISBN: 0-689-82609-5
Publisher: Simon & Schuster

In this poetic reverie, a sharecropper’s son dreams of riding with Casey Jones and his fireman Sim Webb. The whistle of passing trains stirs something in the child: “Papa says it’s the sound of leaving that speaks to my soul.” In Long’s stately paintings, done in dark browns and golds, Casey and Sim stand heroically, their oversized steam engine hurtles past like a storm cloud to its tragic end, and the child, always with an inward look, moves with his equally heroic father from cotton fields, through seasons, to an eventual, long-wished-for farewell on a train platform. In her afterword, Johnson suggests a link between the trains that Jones and his fellow engineers drove through the Mississippi Delta at the turn of the 20th century and the urge to go that sparked the Great Migration. Perhaps—but the dream of boarding a train to find one’s “place in the big wide world” is one that echoes through every generation. (Picture book. 7-9)