THE PRAIRIE TRAIN

PLB 0-517-70989-9 In this poetic book from an Irish playwright and Rohmann (The Cinder-Eyed Cats, 1997, etc.), an immigrant child dreams of returning to Ireland, carried across the sea by the train that is actually taking him in the opposite direction, away and over the wide prairie. The train itself is a dreamer, yearning to spring its tracks and sail the oceans; instead, in Rohmann’s accomplished, lapidary paintings, it speeds through waves of grass under immense skies, seeming at once majestic and, with its clean, rounded lines, toy- like. The story is a metaphorical take on the immigrant experience—young Conor accidentally drops out the window the model ship his grandfather had carved as a going-away present but later dreams of hearing the old man promise that “there’s bigger boats waiting for you.” Readers will feel Conor’s poignant sense of being severed from his past, and will understand why he accepts that forward, for the train and for him, is the only direction there is. (Picture book. 7-9)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-517-70988-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 1999

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ISAAC THE ICE CREAM TRUCK

Newcomer Santoro’s story of the ice cream truck that pined for a more important role in life suffers from a premise that’s well-worn and still fraying—the person or object that longs to be something “more” in life, only to find out that his or its lot in life is enough, after all. Isaac the ice cream truck envies all the bigger, larger, more important vehicles he encounters (the big wheels are depicted as a rude lot, sullen, surly, and snarling, hardly a group to excite much envy) in a day, most of all the fire trucks and their worthy occupants. When Isaac gets that predictable boost to his self-image—he serves up ice cream to over-heated firefighters after a big blaze—it comes as an unmistakable putdown to the picture-book audience: the children who cherished Isaac—“They would gather around him, laughing and happy”—weren’t reason enough for him to be contented. Santoro equips the tale with a tune of Isaac’s very own, and retro scenes in tropical-hued colored pencil that deftly convey the speed of the trucks with skating, skewed angles. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: May 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-8050-5296-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1999

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CLICKETY CLACK

A train load of wild and wacky animals gets so noisy that the engineer has to shout to get them to quiet down. The little black train picks up yaks, acrobats, a troupe of ducks, and stomping elephants as passengers. But when two mice that are in to fireworks climb aboard, the engineer threatens to stop the whole train. “ ‘Keep it down!’ yells Driver Zach. ‘You’re giving me a headache attack!’ “ Everyone quickly hushes up, and soon, “the only sound you hear, in fact,/is the sound of the wheels on the railroad track. Clickety clack, clickety clack.” The words bounce along to the rhythm of a train on its way, and the swell of the sound effects makes this a joy to read aloud. Spengler’s robust illustrations capture an antic cast of passengers, conveying the action as much through composition as color. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: May 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-670-87946-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1999

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