Who can watch a train race by without longing to be on it?
This delightful picture book delivers the literal and figurative rush of cross-country rail travel as it tracks a variety of trains, beginning with a New York commuter line and ending with a high-speed train pulling into a California terminal. Along the way, readers are treated to descriptions of the whizzing thrills of long-distance trains, including the sights, sounds and even aromas that passengers encounter inside and outside the cars. Thanks to clever narrative pacing and handsome design, children are invited to hop on for the ride. Punchy, clipped sentences, often enlivened with evocative onomatopoeic words, enhance the sense of movement. The text on the right-hand page of each spread ends in ellipses that demand rapid page turns, heightening the feel of forward momentum. The book’s rectangular shape suggests a railroad car’s appearance while also providing the illustrator ample space in which to present sweeping, panoramic views of ever-changing scenery and busy stations. The loose watercolor-and-pencil artwork hums with activity and energy; a nighttime scene is dramatic and beautiful. Cooper reminds readers of the anticipatory, ephemeral nature of rail travel by repeating the phrase “Passengers off, passengers on” and gracefully transitioning from train to train both visually and in the text.
Kids will be all aboard for this one. (glossary, author’s note) (Picture book. 4-8)