A Polar Express–esque Halloween train ride tailored to Texans.
While out trick-or-treating, the first-person narrator (a pirate in bandanna and eyepatch) and their best friend (a blond-bobbed superhero) are startled when a train on misty tracks descends from the sky. They board for a ride on the Spooky Express. The other passengers include a mummy, a ghost, Frankenstein’s monster, a giant spider, a dragon, and a witch. Once on the train, it’s never clear where the train is going, though several Texas cities and sites are mentioned in the rhyming verses, a subway-line–like map is on the wall (those cities aren’t visited, though), and several Texas landmarks can be spotted through the windows. Ultimately, the two children must save the whole train when the engineer’s head, a pumpkin in which he keeps his brain, falls off his shoulders and must be recovered from Sam Houston Park. Then, it’s back home again. While the rhymes are no great shakes, they do scan well, save one verse that rhymes train with again. Piwowarski’s illustrations use green, purple, and orange to play up the Halloween theme, and there is nothing too frightening for young readers. Both children appear to be white, as do all other human and humanoid characters with one exception. A map of the state is sadly lacking. This Texas edition is one of 78 in the series, covering the 50 states, 18 U.S. and four Canadian cities, and two provinces, among other locales.
Polar Express it ain’t. Skip. (Picture book. 3-8)