A Christmas counting adventure on a fold-out board-book train.
There are 20 different holiday items on this particular train, which folds out to a whopping 56 inches. A little clumsy to manipulate, the folding feature allows readers either to spread the book out across the floor or to hold it for a lap reading. The rhyming text gives the book a nice pace, with alliteration and rich vocabulary: “3 Christmas trees, sparkling spruce and pine. / 4 paper packages tied with festive twine.” Though the text is for the most part well done, readers will note that one phrase just doesn’t make sense: “10 shining stars, silent watches gleaming.” The crisp illustrations are full of bright colors with some nice details, like stained glass on a tiny church window and a little rooster weathervane atop a house. Beyond the wheels, the train cars don’t really resemble the real deal. Instead, the focus is on the countable items, helping readers succeed in the challenge of numbers beyond 10. It can be a challenge: “19 children nice as can be” are difficult to count, as the children are represented by small lines on a long and twisty list (presumably Santa’s). As a holiday-themed book with a gimmick, this one succeeds, with nice-enough text and illustrations.
The novelty of the fold-out train is really what keeps readers chugging along. (Board book. 2-4)